Roeland Park residents started making their opinions heard about a potential change to the city’s ban on pit bulls Monday – the same night the city granted a dog trainer an exemption from the law for an upcoming event at R Park.
The Roeland Park council identified revisiting the pit bull ban it’s had on the books since the late 1980s as a priority during a work session earlier this year, but the issue hasn’t yet shown up on a Council of the Whole agenda. Nevertheless, two residents appeared during Monday’s council meetings to speak on the issue.
Resident Kellie Maschmeyer moved to Roeland Park in February and was forced to put her pit bull Chloe up for adoption because of the city’s law. She said breed specific legislation like Roeland Park’s punishes dog owners in an arbitrary way that would be like banning particular races or religions.
“Perhaps you can’t see how ignorant this law is because you don’t like dogs, or you’ve had a bad experience,” she said. “Pit bulls owners are not dangers to society. I’m not Michael Vick. We deserve to have our dogs just like anybody else.”
City Administrator Aaron Otto said the topic of moving away from the breed specific ban toward a dangerous and vicious dogs law — one that would allow the city to bar animals deemed dangerous, but that did not single out any specific breeds — could be part of the agenda for the Community Forum scheduled for Oct. 13.
Earlier in the evening, the council approved a motion granting an exemption from the bit bull ban to a dog trainer scheduled to put on an obedience demonstration at the Bark in R Park event, which is scheduled for Oct. 11. The trainer, who teaches obedience classes at the Roeland Park Community Center, uses pit bulls in her demonstrations.
Councilor Michael Rhoades was the only member of the governing body to vote against the exemption after having raised concerns about not equally applying the city’s laws.