A look at dangerous dog ordinances and pit bull prohibitions throughout northeast Johnson County

Pit-Bull

Our story Tuesday about Roeland Park’s consideration of moving away from its breed-specific ordinance banning pit bulls prompted a few inquiries about what laws other area municipalities have on the books, so we checked in with the myriad city halls of the northeast to see what language they use in their dangerous animal ordinances. See summaries below:

Fairway: Currently has a law that explicitly prohibits owning a pit bull (defined as a Staffordshire bull terrier, American pit bull terrier, American Staffordshire terrier, or any mixed breed “known as pit bulls or pit bull dogs”). However, the city has been in the process of updating its entire code, and administrator Kathy Axelson said the city council is likely to consider moving to a “dangerous animal” ordinance. “The Animal chapter in our proposed code update moves from ‘breed specific’ to the prohibiting of ‘dangerous animals.’” she wrote. “I expect the updated code to be considered by the City Council prior to the end of the year.” Ordinance available here.

Mission: Has a “dangerous or vicious animals” ordinance that allows the city to require animals determined to be a threat to the safety of individuals to be muzzled, confined or put down based on the determination of a judge. No specific breeds are mentioned in the ordinance, but it does automatically define any “hybrid animal that is part wild” as a dangerous animal. (So, no part-wolves allowed). See the full ordinance here.

Mission Hills: Recently updated its ordinance so that it does not explicitly ban pit bulls, but rather categorizes all pit bulls as “potentially dangerous dogs.” All potentially dangerous dogs must be confined within a building or chained behind a fence so they can not come closer than six feet to the barrier. If the dog is taken off a residential property, it must be muzzled and kept on a leash no longer than four feet by a person 18 or older. See the full ordinance here.

Prairie Village: Has a breed specific law that prohibits residents from keeping, harboring, owning or in any way possessing pit bulls. The ordinance defines pit bulls as Staffordshire pit bull terriers, American pit bull terriers, American Staffordshire bull terriers, and “any dog having the appearance and characteristics of being predominately of the breeds of Staffordshire pit bull terrier, American pit bull terrier, American Staffordshire bull terrier; or a combination of any of these breeds.” The ordinance was last revisited in 2005. See the full ordinance here (check page 50).

Westwood: Has a section of its vicious animals ordinance that specifically lists the pit bull variations named in the Prairie Village ordinance, but also lists the presa canario. Westwood administrator Fred Sherman notes that there “has been some – but only brief and informal — discussions at the council level about this issue over the past few years…but no traction taken in terms of pushing for making changes to the adopted code or not in Westwood.” Sherman noted that breed specific prohibitions can pose a grey area for city officials trying to enforce the ordinance since the language doesn’t specify what percent of of the prohibited breed a dog must be to be banned. See the full ordinance here.

Westwood Hills: Has a dangerous, vicious or exotic animal ordinance, but does not prohibit any specific breeds of dogs. (It does, however, ban “lions, tigers, leopards, panthers, bears, wolves, apes, gorillas, monkeys of a species whose average adult weight is 20 pounds or more, foxes, elephants, alligators, crocodiles, and snakes which are poisonous or otherwise present a risk of serious physical harm or death to human beings as a result of their nature or physical makeup, including all constrictors.”) Ordinance available here — see section 2-104.