Yakima Pit Bull Ban Remains — For Now
The Yakima City Council struggled to find its way procedurally and philosophically (watch the tape!) Tuesday night, but eventually voted 5 to 2 to keep the Yakima city pit bull ban in place while the city staff works up a stronger version of the city's dangerous dog ordinance. When council approves of any changes made to that policy, it is expected they will vote to remove the pit bull ban. The directive to the staff was to bring a potential ordinance back to the council at the April 17 meeting.
Nearly two dozen people spoke to the council Tuesday, with all but two asking for the ban to be removed. The arguments were a mix of emotion about family pets, technical information about pit bull misidentification, anecdotal information about personal experiences with pit bulls and the oft-repeated mantra of "it's not the dog, it's the owner." Council members also acknowledged receiving hundreds of calls and emails -- pro and con -- on the subject of pit bulls.
In the end, Councilman Brad Hill wanted to toughen existing dangerous dog laws. Councilman Jason White wanted provisions to hold violators more accountable. And Councilwoman Kay Funk said it was a societal values issue that belonged in the hands of the voters -- she suggested putting the question of a ban on the November ballot. She also said she wasn't inclined to remove the ban now, reminding the audience that dogs aren't people and they don't have anti-discrimination rights or rights of any kind.
Councilwoman Holly Cousens said no to lifting the ban while seeking more community input on future changes to the dangerous dog ordinance. Councilwoman Dulce Guiterrez wanted more conversation on the ordinance while councilors Kathy Coffey and Carmen Mendez both wanted to lift the ban.