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'Just don't take my dog': Leawood family in legal battle with city to keep dog

kristi bond lucy leawood dog.jpg
Posted at 5:00 AM, Apr 07, 2021
and last updated 2021-04-08 09:33:47-04

LEAWOOD, Kan. — A Leawood family is in the middle of a legal battle with the city to keep their dog.

It's been three years since Kristi Bond first saw a picture of a black and white puppy at the shelter.

"They said they had the sweetest dog and she had been really sick and she's better now," Bond said. "As soon as I saw her, I had to meet her."

The next day, Bond picked up the puppy and brought her home to live with her and her two daughters in Kansas City. They named her Lucy.

"We take her everywhere with us," Bond said. "She's just our sweet puppy."

Now Bond said she is forced to either give up Lucy or move away from her home in Leawood.

"What kind of decision is that?" Bond said. "We love where we live. We love our neighbors. We have really great neighbors. Our kids' school is close by."

It all started when Lucy escaped the family's fence in April 2020. She was picked up a couple doors away by an animal control officer, who identified Lucy as a pit bull in his report.

READ | Leawood police report

Pit bulls are not allowed in Leawood as part of the city's "dangerous animals" ban, which was implemented in 2003 after concerns from citizens.

However, according to a letter from Bond's veterinarian, Lucy is a boxer mix.

READ | Letter from veterinarian

"Two days later we got a letter saying we needed to re-home her," Bond said.

The letter stated Lucy fit the "appearance and characteristics" of a pit bull.

Then, after another couple of days passed, Bond said the family got a knock at the door.

"An animal control officer and a policeman with a gun on his hip came to our front door and demanded that we give her to them," Bond said.

The family did not surrender Lucy.

Bond took the issue to court, where a judge ruled in favor of the city, even though Bond provided the note from her veterinarian that Lucy is a boxer mix.

Bond is now appealing the judge's ruling. She said her fight with city isn't just about Lucy. She wants the breed ban to be revoked.

Section 2-102 (k) of Chapter 2 of the Leawood City Code, which deals with Animal Control, defines "any pit bull dog, Staffordshire Bull Terrier, American Staffordshire Terrier, American Pit Bull Terrier, or any animal having the appearance or characteristics of being predominantly of the breeds" as a dangerous animal.

"I want them to change it so it affects dangerous behavior only," Bond said.

As the law stands, a dog would only need to fit the appearance of a dangerous breed for a family to be issued a citation.

"What does a dangerous dog look like?" Bond asked.

Since 2018, Leawood has issued four citations in regards to its dangerous breeds ban. Bond is the only one who a judge has ever ruled against.

Dr. Saddie Scott, a veterinarian and president of the Kansas City Veterinarian Medical Association, said there's no premise for breed bans considering the bans don't make communities safer from dog bites.

"We have no researched-based evidence that states that specific legislation decreases the severity of bites," Scott said

In recent years, cities across the metro, including Liberty and Prairie Village have reversed breed bans.

Overland Park is considering getting rid of its breed ban.

The City of Leawood would not comment on the matter, citing it as pending litigation.

Scott referenced a study that shows whether or not a dog is dangerous is determined mostly on three factors.

The first, resident dogs in comparison to home dogs.

Dogs that are kept outside on a chain, void of love and human interaction, are more likely to pose a threat than dogs that are kept indoors.

The second factor, according to the study, is in regards to whether or not a dog is spayed or neutered.

"Animals that are not spayed or neutered have a much higher propensity to cause dangerous bites," Scott said.

The third factor comes down to gender.

Male dogs are five times more likely to cause fatal bites.

None of those factors apply to Lucy.

In regards to determining Lucy's breed based off a visual evaluation, Scott said it's incredibly difficult to get an accurate analysis.

"Most cases, 60% of the time, we're wrong on pit bull breed," Scott said.

Bond is due back in court for her appeal in May. She's now questioning whether or not she wants to live in Leawood.

"I was like, 'You know, what, I'd like to move somewhere where our taxpayer dollars are spent more effectively,'" Bond said. "Rather than bullying people who have a friendly family dog who they just don't like the look of."

Bond's daughter, Esmae, also wants the city to reconsider.

"Don't take away my dog," Esmae said. "I love that dog so much."