Leawood’s pit bull ban is still on the books, but how is it actually enforced?

Johnson County's last pit bull ban has become a topic of discussion again this summer as the city considers asking for the community's opinion on whether it should remain in place. Above, a Leawood resident's pit bull, Lucy. Photo by Lucie Krisman.

Leawood’s dangerous animal ordinance banning pit bulls went into effect in 2003 and is the last of its kind in Johnson County. As the Leawood City Council looks into asking for the community’s input on it, here’s where the ordinance stands now and how enforcement looks.

What is the rule exactly? Leawood’s city code currently prohibits ownership of “dangerous animals”, which includes pit bulls.

  • The ban specifically names Staffordshire bull terriers, American Staffordshire terriers and American pit bull terriers — or any dog that has the appearance and characteristics of being predominantly of those breeds.

How is the pit bull ban enforced? If Leawood’s animal control department receives a report of a pit bull in the city, a police officer or animal control officer is dispatched to investigate.

  • The officer will examine and potentially take pictures of the dog.
  • From there, Public Information Officer Brad Collins said the department uses American Kennel Club guidelines to determine whether the dog qualifies as a pit bull.
  • If possible, all three of the department’s animal control officers try to reach a consensus together on whether the dog matches the description.

What happens then? If animal control officers determine that a dog in Leawood is in fact a pit bull, Collins said the next step is to contact the owners for more information.

  • The owner is then most likely given a citation and asked to relocate the dog within five days.
  • Since January of 2021, Collins said the city has had six cases involving pit bulls — two of which involved bites.

Why it matters now: This year, the ordinance came back on the table for re-evaluation when the Leawood City Council heard resident concerns about it at a July meeting.

  • At the time, the council discussed the possibility of issuing a community survey for residents to weigh in on their satisfaction with the ordinance.
  • The topic will be back before the council for consideration at a work session next month.

Resident impact: In one of the most recent Leawood pit bull cases, a Johnson County district judge ruled that the ordinance was too vague after owner Kristi Bond had to relocate her pit bull Lucy.

  • Bob Brettell, Bond’s fiancé and Lucy’s other owner, said consulting animal organizations with expertise on pit bulls would be a more productive step for the city than conducting a resident survey.
  • Although Lucy is back home, he said, the fact that the ordinance remains in effect is still concerning to his family.
  • “We worry that someday they’re just going to decide to enforce a ban that we beat in court once already, and for which they didn’t make substantive changes,” he said. “All I’ve really wanted to do this whole time is just have our dogs, whatever they are, treated the same way (as other dogs).”