The Shawnee City Commission voted unanimously at their Monday night meeting to change a city ordinance that requires a previous incident before a dog can be euthanized.
The change allows the Municipal Court Judge to order a hearing after a single incident. At the hearing, the judge will take evidence and then decide if the dog is “vicious.” After deciding, the judge can then order the animal euthanized, or take different action.
The change comes after Darinda McElfresh spoke to the commission during citizen’s participating, urging the commission to make the change. She said a neighbor’s pit bulls had chewed through an electric fence, as well as two wooden fences to make its way into her backyard. Once in her backyard, the pit bulls attacked McElfresh’s dogs.
She said her son tried unsuccessfully to break up the fight between the animals.
“It was a blood bath,” McElfresh said.
McElfresh mentioned other incidents of the pit bulls attacking people. But because there were no other reported incidents, the judge could not have the dog euthanized.
The incidents McElfresh mentioned included the pit bulls attacking a young girl and her dog, as well as getting out of their yard and attacking a woman who was walking her dog.
However, City Attorney Mary Ann Karns explained that because these hadn’t been reported, they couldn’t be considered as previous incidents, so the dogs were returned to their owners. The judge did order an enclosure built for the dogs, whom Karns said had just had puppies.
Karns recommended the ordinance be changed.
“This is one that is really just a tragedy waiting to happen,” she said referring to McElfresh’s case.
The change was passed unanimously, as was the emergency clause. Because the emergency clause was passed, there is no waiting period.
While the law is immediately effective, it will not affect the pit bulls that attack McElfresh’s dogs. Another report will be required before the Municipal Court Judge can order a hearing.