The pit bull dog breed, once banned for its aggressive reputation, will be allowed at Roeland Park homes soon.
The Roeland Park City Council voted to lift the decades-old ban on the terriers after months of discussions with residents pro and con.
At its meeting Monday, the council agreed on a split vote to allow pit bulls back into the city. But residents will only be allowed one of the animals per residence until 2018, said council president Marek Gliniecki.
After that people can own the same number of pit bulls as other breeds. The city code allows two dogs per household, but permits can be obtained for additional dogs.
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The action was taken as part of an effort to update old animal control codes, he said. It came after a public hearing in November in which more than 25 people spoke, mostly in favor of lifting the ban.
Councilwoman Jennifer Gunby championed lifting the ban.
“Breed-specific bans give a false sense of security to the public,” she said. “We are now able to regulate based on behavior and not physical characteristics, and that will make the city safer.”
Roeland Park’s pit bull ban dates to the 1980s, Gliniecki said. The animals acquired a reputation for viciousness after some well-publicized attacks at the time. One of those was in Roeland Park in 1984, according to one speaker at the November meeting who was against lifting the ban.
However, pit bull advocates have said breed-specific bans amount to “dog racism,” when other dogs, if mishandled, can become equally aggressive. Animal shelter organizations have supported lifting breed-specific bans.
Recently several area cities have revisited restrictions on pit bulls in favor of a more breed-neutral approach.
The animal control code still addresses inhumane treatment of dogs that could lead to aggressive behavior, however.
Pit bull is a term encompassing Staffordshire bull terriers and other dogs deemed by experts to have the characteristics of Staffordshires.
Gliniecki was not sure exactly when the new code will become effective, but said it would be soon.