The City Commission was not swayed Monday night by arguments that its ordinance on pit bulls and other "dangerous" dog breeds is ineffective and
The ordinance, which was passed several years ago, effectively bans breeds that are or once were bred for fighting and guarding. Dogs that have been crossed with wolves are also regulated.
But breed-specific legislation doesn't achieve its aims, said Jenna Lewis, who works at the office of Pratt veterinarian Dr. Clinton Skaggs.
"Putting a ban on a breed is not effective, as (Police Chief ) Gary Myers
can attest," Lewis said. "People just hide them. It turns responsible pet owners into criminals."
Pet ordinances with teeth are necessary, she acknowledged, but such ordinances should focus on owners who don't properly train and control their pets. Stiff penalties should be put in place for owners whose dogs are proven dangerous. Blanket sanctions for particular breeds are unwarranted.
The Commissioners disagreed.
Commissioner Jeff Taylor said his son has an Australian shepherd cross that regularly tries to herd the family's other dogs by nipping at their heels. Such
behavior is proof that breed tendencies do matter, he said.
"Pit bulls are bred to be fighters," Taylor said. "Otherwise you wouldn't have cities all across the United States passing ordinance to control these breeds."
Mayor Bill Hlavachick, a former wildlife conservation officer, cited his own experience with wolf hybrids.
Without breed-specific regulation, Pratt would probably have to require mandatory registration for all dogs, Commissioner Lucus Kumberg said.
In other business, the Commission:
• Approved more than $300,000 in upgrades to the city's power grid to accommodate Pratt Regional Medical Center's expansion and renovation.
Each of the commissioners — with the exception of Kumberg, who works for the hospital and excused himself from the debate and the vote — took turns expressing their disappointment with PRMC for not alerting the city to their needs sooner and for not including the cost in the bond issue passed by voters in August.
Hospital representatives countered that while the broad strokes of the project
were known before the vote, more detailed planning only came about after the public gave its OK to proceed.
The upgrades will leave the city with little cushion in the reserve fund for such projects.
• Approved the purchase of a sewer pipe camera from Key Equipment for $62,890.
• Tabled an appointment to the Pratt Area Economic Development Corp. board.