Hey Yakima City Council, Here Is Your Dog Bite Safety Solution
How will a "beefed up" dangerous dog law make Yakima any safer than it is now? We have a dangerous dog ordinance on the books at present which basically puts extra requirements on a person whose dog has attacked or bitten someone. What will the new ordinance look like?
City staff and the City Council Public Safety Committee are working on that now and will have some type of legislation for consideration at the April 17th council meeting. The Tacoma dangerous dog law has been pointed to as a model for consideration as have laws from Oregon. Having checked them out I would say they represent some common sense requirements that should be on the books now in any community.
In most cases dangerous dog laws include a procedure to declare a dog dangerous, then there is due process for dissension or a way for owners to contest the declaration that their dog is dangerous, there are special limitations and conditions that owners must meet in order to keep and control a dangerous dog and finally there are penalties for violating those conditions.
Does that sound like it will make the community safer from dog bites -- especially if a dog has to actually bite someone to be classified as dangerous? It MAY provide better safety on a dog by dog situation AFTER the fact, but how is that any safer than the current ban and dangerous dog ordinance we have now? I submit it isn't. As it looks now, the council is prepared to reintroduce pit bulls to the community once a "tougher" dangerous dog law is written and in place. Why can't we do both?
IF we are serious about public safety, why can't we leave pit bulls off the table, as they are now, and have been for 30 years and include a strengthened dangerous dog ordinance as part of a dog bite public safety package? If we keep the ban, there will be some illegal dogs like there are now but the number will be fewer than if the ban is lifted. Keeping the ban doesn't eliminate the possibility of an illegal pit bull dog biting (like on Monday) but it does mean the potential for pit bull bites will be less. At the same time, a beefed up dangerous dog law with consequences could persuade some dog owners not to run the risk of ownership or encourage others into more responsible dog training and ownership behavior. End result: possibly better owners, possibly better behaved dogs and a distinctly limited chance of a devastating pit bull bite. Isn't that a move toward better safety?
Come on City Council, use your common sense. Keep the ban, toughen the law and if you still feel the need to address the few who desire pit bulls, take councilwoman Kay Funk's recommendation and let the people vote on it. After all, it's the public's sense of safety, it's their flesh and bone at risk, so let the community tell you what level of risk is acceptable for them.
Don't let that be set by the few loud voices who have already made their own risk assessment on pit bulls.