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Pit bull ban in parks mulled
Johnson County's board will hear arguments for or against a prohibition and make a decision.
The Kansas City Star

As Andrea Bielsker's dog Tanner romped in Shawnee Mission Park, a pit bull clamped its jaws around the neck of the mixed-breed Dalmatian.

"It just locked on and wouldn't let go," said her friend Nora Hicks, who witnessed the April attack in the off-leash dog area of the popular Johnson County park.

So Hicks popped the pit bull on the head, stunning the muscular animal just enough for Tanner to wiggle free.

"The attack was completely unprovoked," Hicks told the Johnson County Board of Park and Recreation Commissioners in November. "I am sincerely afraid someday a dog is going to get killed."

That attack - and others like it in the last six years - has prompted park board members to consider banning pit bulls from the county's 10 parks. A public hearing is set for 6 p.m. Wednesday, and board members could vote to ban the animals after the hearing.

As an alternative, the county could choose to ban the breed only in its four off-leash areas - where dogs mix and roam free - but allow them on a leash everywhere else.

Violators could draw a ticket and fine from the park police and be prosecuted through the Johnson County Codes Court.

Pit bull bans have sparked rancorous debate across the metro area since last year's deadly mauling of an elderly woman in Kansas City, Kan., and a handful of other attacks.

From January 2000 to November 2006, park police in Johnson County reported 49 dog bites and fights involving several breeds, including boxers, golden retrievers, cockapoos, collies, Brittany spaniels and Labradors.

Critics say pit bulls are bred for violence and pose a unique threat. Park board member James Azeltine said he's convinced that a total ban is the way to go.


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