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Volunteers to gather signatures at Independence polls, hope to overturn city's pit-bull ban

pit bull dog
Posted at 5:21 PM, Apr 03, 2023

INDEPENDENCE, Mo. — After years of a breed-specific ban in Independence, a group of more than 30 volunteers hopes getting petition signatures at the polls Tuesday will persuade the city council to repeal the pit-bull ban.

Independence city code states pit bulls and dogs with similar physical characteristics are prohibited. There is also a dangerous dog ordinance in the city.

“I think it’s heartbreaking, I really do,” said Miriam Keith, a petition volunteer. “I don’t think the city completely understands you are losing people who once they find out may move out of the city, there are a lot of people I talked to who won’t move to the city because of the ban.”

Animal law attorney Katie Barnett said many cities enacted laws years ago out of fear, but recently the focus has shifted to looking at a dog’s habits, not their DNA.

In the Kansas City area, there are just two cities with bans on breeds — Independence and Leawood.

Local shelters like KC Pet Project and the Great Plains SPCA are supportive of getting signatures.

“KC Pet Project fully supports the removal of the ban on pit bull type dogs in Independence," KC Pet Project said in a statement. "As the largest shelter in Kansas City caring for more than 15,000 pets a year, removal of this ban would help open even more opportunities for our pets to find new families. We’re happy to see more cities in the metro removing these discriminatory bans and instead moving toward ordinances that enhance public safety, such as dangerous dog ordinances.”

Barnett said it’s better for city leaders to make the change on their own, instead of through a citizen petition. 

“You want them to come to that conclusion concurrent with the basic trends that are going on scientifically and legally throughout the country,” Barnett said. “I just wish that everyone would get on the same page, because everything would be much more successful, and the people would be much safer.”

Volunteers plan to be at polling locations throughout Independence throughout the day on April 4.