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Independence hears public input on efforts to lift pit bull ban

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Posted at 11:20 PM, Nov 06, 2019
and last updated 2019-11-07 00:20:41-05

INDEPENDENCE, Mo. — Pit bulls have not legally been allowed in Independence since 2006, when an incident led to the city’s current breed specific legislation, banning them.

Now, in a push for more funding for local shelters, activists are calling for the ordinance to be overturned.

Wednesday night’s public hearing served as an opportunity for community members to voice their concerns on both sides of the issue.

“The problem is we have people, parents today, that are unfit to even be a parent, let alone raise a child, let alone raise a dog,” said one resident in favor of lifting the ban, “and so it’s really not an animal thing it’s a people thing.”

Resident Terry Houghton is for the ban.

“If we’re going to put these dogs in our community, maybe the neighbors, maybe the community itself, needs to know dogs with aggressive behavior, regardless of what their breed is, just moved in next door,” Houghton said.

While Wednesday’s crowd was split on the issue, nearly everyone agreed on a dangerous-dog ordinance, including Shane Rudman, of the Animal Justice League of America.

“What’s better is to have a dangerous-dog ordinance, which Independence does have in place now and it covers all breeds any dangerous dog is covered under that so then it’s just redundant and wasting taxpayers’ money to have a breed-specific legislation," Rudman said.

While Houghton said he does not care for pit bulls, he understands that “a lot of people own them and they believe they are great pets.”

Taxpayer dollars also were brought into the discussion, as some suggested lifting the ban would save money and open room in local shelters.

“They are going to be able to register their dogs and not fear that their dogs are going to be taken and put down or killed just because they want to have a pit bull type of a dog," said Tamie Thurston, with the Animal Justice League of America.

The subcommittee tasked with leading the public hearing will send recommendations to the Health Department and other local agencies before any decision is made.