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Jan. 24 Public Hearing Set to Consider Proposed Ban of Pit Bull Dog Breeds from Johnson County Park and Recreation District Parks and Facilities
POSTED: 01/08/2007
 
Members of the public are invited to make comments on a proposed measure which would ban pit bull dog breeds from all Johnson County Park and Recreation District parks and facilities.

A public hearing on the matter has been set for 6 p.m. on Wednesday, Jan. 24, in the Board Room of the District's Administration Building, 7900 Renner Road, Shawnee. Those wishing to make presentations before the Johnson County Park and Recreation Board of Commissioners are also asked to provide a written summary of their comments that evening.

Those unable to attend the public hearing may submit comments in writing via email addressed to: communityrelations@jocogov.org or through the mail by addressing correspondence to: Community Relations, 7900 Renner Road, Shawnee Mission, KS, 66219. All written comments must be received prior to the Jan. 24 public hearing.

Following the hearing, the Board is expected to consider formal action on the proposed pit bull ban as part of the agenda for its regular January meeting, which will begin at 7 p.m. on Jan. 24, also in the Board Room of the Administration Building.

After several months of consideration by District staff and the District Board's Park Committee, concerns about pit bulls first came before the full District Board during its Nov. 15 regular meeting. Review of the issue actually began in April 2006 when Superintendent of Parks and Golf Courses Bill Cobb was contacted via letter by two patrons who said one of their dogs had been attacked by a pit bull at the District's Shawnee Mission Park off-leash area.

Park Police Department Chief Dan Field said during the November meeting that the District currently honors pit bull bans enacted by cities in which District parks are located. Under this practice, pit bulls are already banned from the Kill Creek Streamway Park and Thomas S. Stoll Memorial Park’s off-leash areas (and elsewhere in those parks within the city limits) because the cities of De Soto and Overland Park currently ban the breed. Signs have recently been posted in those two parks. Pit bulls are not banned by city ordinance from the off-leash areas in Heritage and Shawnee Mission parks. Heritage Park is located in an unincorporated portion of the county and Shawnee Mission Park is partially in Shawnee, which does ban pit bulls, and partially in Lenexa, which bans aggressive dogs which have a proven history of biting. The off-leash area is located completely within the Lenexa portion of the park.

District Board Chair Nancy Wallerstein said one of her goals for this process is to establish some park-to-park consistency in the District's policies concerning pit bull breeds.

After nearly an hour of discussion on the matter during the Nov. 15 regular meeting, the Board directed staff to prepare two proposed measures on the subject. One would completely ban pit bulls from all District parks, while the other would ban the breed from the District’s four off-leash areas, while allowing them on-leash in other areas of the parks. Board Members said they would consider both options, then select one of the proposals and conduct a public hearing on that proposal before implementing pit bull-related measures.

During further discussion as part of its Dec. 20 regular meeting, the Board directed staff to prepare a proposed code for consideration at the Jan. 24 public hearing that would completely ban the breed from all park areas.

Board Member James Azeltine said during the December meeting he believes this is the way the District should go, but also added that after receiving the public's input, it would be easier to amend the ordinance to a limited ban if that was the Board's wish.

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