More Missouri communities repealing long-standing bans on pit bulls

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Independence, MO (KCTV) – While pit bull bans spark a lot of heated discussions between friends and neighbors, the tide appears to be with opponents of the bans.

In last couple of years, more than 100 communities across the nation have repealed their bans, including several in the Kansas City metro like Bonner Springs, Fairway and Spring Hill.

One of the few people who spoke in favor of keeping the ban in Roeland Park was Karen Stroud.

Stroud said a pit bull once attacked a close friend’s child.

“Once a child is mauled, that’s with them for the rest of their life,” she said.

Stroud lost the battle. The Roeland Park city council voted 6-2 to lift the ban.

People who share Stroud’s concerns about the danger of pit bulls have been on the losing end a lot lately.

Courtney Thomas, the president and CEO of Great Plains SPCA, believes the bans are being repealed because people are beginning to understand that the dogs aren’t the problem, the owners are.

“Bans of any kind for any type of breed are an ineffective way to manage a community and the safety of that community,” said Thomas. “It’s really about how the pets were raised, how they’re being raised today.”

While bans have been lifted in many cities, they are still in place in communities like Kansas City, KS, Overland Park and Independence.

Thomas said Great Plains SPCA staff members often deal with pit bull owners who have to give up their pets because of the area bans.

“We’ve had folks who have come to our intake centers just in tears having no idea that they weren’t able to own a certain type of dog,” said Thomas.

Independence adopted the ban after a man was viciously attacked by a pack of pit bulls in 2006. Pit bull owners and supporters recently called for Independence city council to overturn the ban.

Councilors declined to bring it up for a vote, saying it should be left up to voters to decide instead.

In KCK, an effort to overturn that community’s ban failed 4-4 in December.

Commissioner Hal Walker, the most vocal supporter of the ban, said he doesn’t regret his vote to keep it, but is willing to revisit the issue.

Walker said after voting to keep the ban, he received tons of emails, mostly from pit bull owners outraged by his decision.

Walker would not say how he would vote if the issue came back, but said he is willing to listen to both sides.

Roeland Park officials said there have not been any dog attacks reported since the city lifted its ban in January.

By Chris Oberholtz