A couple of weeks ago, the community of Baldwin City, KS (Population 4,515) repealed its long-time ban on pit bulls. The city passed a final vote two weeks ago (it passed unanimously). The new law, Ordinance 1335, redefines "prohibited animals" and pit bulls are no longer on the list. The ordinance made other changes that included more clear definitions of dangerous and potentially dangerous dogs based on behavior.
According to earlier new reports, the city Police Chief, Greg Neis, acknowledged that the pit bull ban wasn't being enforced. "We all know there are people in the city with pit bulls," he told the Lawrence Journal World. I have yet to approach an aggressive one that comes close to meeting the standards of a dangerous dog. Most are pretty lovable. If one does come to town, we'll deal with it with the dangerous dog provisions."
While the move is a great move for the city of Baldwin City, it also highlights a growing trend in the state of Kansas. 25+ years ago Kansas was a hotbed for breed-specific laws. Much of that stemmed from the state being home to one of the early court cases involving breed-specific laws.
However, over the past eight years, 18 Kansas communities have repealed breed-bans, including Wellington, Edwardsville, Topeka, Seward County, Garnett, El Dorado, Basehor, Osawatomie, Bonner Springs, Spring Hill, Wellsville, Garden City, Fairway, Lansing, Roeland Park, South Hutchinson, Edgerton, and now Baldwin City.
The sheer number of these repeals highlights a growing trend among communities to follow expert opinion and change ordinances to behavior based ordinances vs ones that target dogs based on breed or appearance. The Kansas Animal Control Association has also taken a stand against breed-specific laws and favors behavior-based laws.
Behavior-based laws are more fair and more efficient at addressing the issue of dangerous dogs in communities. As Chief Neis noted, if a dangerous pit bull comes along, they can still address it with their behavior-based ordinance, but it frees his time up from having to target the mostly "pretty lovable" ones.
The change in direction in Kansas is certainly a positive and reflective of a national trend across the country as well, with 19 states now prohibiting breed-specific laws, and many cities in states that still allow such laws opting to change them on their own. This is particularly true in Ohio (as well as Kansas) which has seen a huge number of repeals in recent years.
This is more great news out of Baldwin City. Nice job.