Archive for Wednesday, June 16, 2004

City ban on Rottweilers stands

June 16, 2004

It was an argument over heredity vs. environment.

On Monday, Tonganoxie City Council members heard arguments over the city's ordinance that bans Rottweilers and pit bulls.

Marsha Meyers had asked council members three weeks ago to consider allowing her Rottweiler to live in the city.

City law bans both Rottweilers and pit bulls.

Meyers had argued that her 1-year-old dog, Countess, is a gentle animal and that the city's laws are discriminatory against breeds.

"This is ridiculous to punish a dog because of his breed," she said, her voice breaking with emotion. "All Rottweilers are not bad. All pit bulls are not bad. ... It's all how you train a dog. It comes back to the humans. It's not the dog's fault. He was not born aggressive."

She said her dog, which currently is being boarded outside the city, is like a child to her.

Before she and her husband moved to Tonganoxie about a year ago, they asked their landlord if their Rottweiler was allowed in the city. They were told the dog was, she said.

"And now you're telling me I cannot have the dog," she said.

Two of Meyers' neighbors also spoke in defense of Countess.

Three weeks ago, city council members had asked the city staff to look into a possible change in city law to address "dangerous dogs," rather than spelling out specific breeds. But City Administrator Shane Krull said the city simply does not have the manpower to handle the administration of such an ordinance.

"I have a tendency to agree with you that we might have a problem because we do not have a full-time animal-control officer," said council member Velda Roberts.

Mayor Dave Taylor asked if the city could use the weight of dogs, rather than their breeds, as a regulatory tool.

"To me, that would solve a lot of problems," he said. "You can't say that a Rottweiler is any more dangerous than a German shepherd that's been taught to protect its property. It seems to me the weight of the dog in the city limits would be one thing to look at."

But council members said that while they were sympathetic to Meyers' plight, that they were reluctant to make a change in the city laws.

"The previous council saw fit to impose this thing, and I think it's worked well for us," said council member Ron Cranor. "One of the reasons I have a problem changing any of this stuff is that we have no full-time animal-control officer. And absent a full-time animal-control officer, we have some serious problems."

And acting Police Chief John Putthoff said officers couldn't handle animal complaints.

"We're not set up with the right tools, the right vehicles," he said.

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