The Prairie Village City Council plans to hold a public meeting later this summer to discuss scrapping a city law banning residents from owning pit bulls as well as rethinking how the city labels “dangerous” dogs.
No date has been set yet for the review. But at a recent council meeting this month, members argued over city policies regarding pit bulls.
In recent months, the council — one of only three in Johnson County that still have so-called “breed-specific laws” — has heard from a number of people advocating against a pit bull ban. They claimed there’s no scientific evidence that pit bulls are naturally dangerous to humans and most attacks can be traced to poor care and training by the dogs’ owners.
In fact, at the council meeting earlier this month a number of speakers asked officials to rescind the ban, including a couple that said they had originally planned to move to Prairie Village but instead settled in Fairway because they couldn’t bring their pit bull with them to Prairie Village.
“We were disappointed that a place like Prairie Village had such a regressive ordinance,” said Beau Jackson, with his wife, Laura.
Mayor Laura Wassmer expressed concern about the topic, saying she felt the issue may be too big to be decided by the council and was being pushed by what she considered a small number of opponents, many of whom she said lived outside Prairie Village.
That description angered Councilwoman Serena Schermoly who pointed out the 25 people who attended a recent meeting to support calls for repealing the ban.
“When we say ‘a few’ people have shown up, I think that shows disrespect to our residents,” Schermoly said.
Wassmer responded, “We don’t necessarily change laws affecting 22,000 people over a few people, and I would say 25, even 50 people would be a few people.”
She and Councilman Terrence Gallagher added that they didn’t think there’s been enough input from residents who support a pit bull ban.
“I’d like to hear both sides,” Gallagher said. “All we’ve seen is an organized effort from those in favor of repealing it.”
Councilman Eric Mikkelson said the issue has been discussed at several meetings and covered by local media and that most of the handful of emails he’s received defending the ban are from out-of-state. In any event, he said the upcoming meeting should settle it and see if enough council members are willing to repeal the law.
“We’re not going to hear from all 22,000 voters,” he said. “We never do.”