Cities in Texas, such as Garland, that are adopting or considering adopting breed-specific regulations in their animal control codes, should consider the experience of Topeka, Kansas.
There, assistant city attorney Kyle Smith is suggesting doing away with the city's breed-specific rules regulating ownership of pit bulls. According to the Topeka Capital-Journal, the rules "require owners to obtain licenses and implant microchips in dogs that have the appearance and characteristics of being predominantly of any three types of pit bull: the Staffordshire bull terrier, American Staffordshire terrier and American pit bull terrier." Violators must remove their dogs from the city and pay fines.
Pit bulls that are the subject of pending cases must be impounded in the city shelter until their case is resolved in court. Smith blames these cases for the majority of the animal control department's cost overruns.
Stacy Hensiek, executive director of Topeka's Helping Hands Humane Society, told the Capital-Journal that 20 to 40 dogs being held in connection with pit bull court cases are confined at any given time at the Humane Society, and the resulting overcrowding causes the shelter to euthanize stray dogs of other breeds because there isn't available space for them.
Smith noted that the 11 fatal dog attacks in Kansas since 1965 have been carried out by eight different breeds. He is seeking a change to the city's animal control ordinance that would create lower-level offense of possessing a dangerous dog. He said dogs would be judged as "dangerous" when they have shown inappropriate aggressive behavior.
The Topeka City Council is expected to address the recommendations this summer.