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Citing costs and shelter crowding, Topeka considers rescinding pit bull law

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. 


  • Faith 5 years ago

    Strange that this is what people were asking for before BSL was enacted in Kansas. Are city officials really so stupid in that they fail to research the ineffectiveness and expense of BSL, and they fail to seek out answers from animal behaviorist who would have told them that any breed of dog is prone to acting aggressively for any number of reasons, based on a lack of early socialization and/or the inability of the owner to understand or take responsibility for their own dog/s. How many pit bulls and their responsible owners have to suffer before law makers wake up!!

  • Julie Hensley 5 years ago

    It probably has less to do with what research the city leaders are willing to do and more with what the public is willing to do. Town Leader A wants to be re-elected and the voters at large (we can call them a mob) are screaming for the heads of Pit Bulls, therefore research is pointless... when you see how easily swayed people are just by hearing stuff over and over again (without EVER checking to see if their favorite pundit or politician speaks the truth) then you realize. There were founding fathers who had concerns over various aspects of our governing system - Jefferson (who felt the educated landowner needed to be the only voter - course this was before Freddie Mac and Fannie Mac made that possible for the majority) and Franklin (who really DIDN'T like Republics) - not to say that there are alot of systems that are better, but we are reaping some of the same results that Rome saw. Mob Rule, even if it's far more passive than rioting.

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