Kennewick City Council expected to vote on breed-specific legislation

The Kennewick City Council is expected to vote Tuesday night on an ordinance that targets breed-specific legislation.

Council members need to decide if they’re getting rid of special permits required for “dangerous or potentially dangerous” dogs or add an exemption. Earlier this year, a bill was passed in Washington state that aims at specific breeds.

According to the bill, a city or county can’t prohibit the possession of a dog “based upon its breed, impose requirements specific to possession of a dog based upon its breed, or declare a dog dangerous or potentially dangerous based on its breed.”

Right now, the city requires a permit for animals determined to be dangerous, which automatically includes any pit bull-type breed.

“Our goal is to get rid of the breed-specific legislation all together because dog bite data here in the Tri-Cities as well as national data and research shows that the breed-specific legislation is not effective at reducing dog bites in the community,” said Ashley Schoenwald, a local pit bull advocate.

Because of the bill, the City of Kennewick has to either lift the special permit completely or require dogs to go through an AKC Canine Good Citizen test.

Schoenwald said the city could be taking different avenues.

“The community could spend its resources enforcing, you know, loose leash dog laws and penalizing people who actually have dangerous dogs exhibiting dangerous behavior instead of focusing on one breed that people think is dangerous but are not actually true,” she explained.

According to data Schoenwald obtained through public records requests, there have been 177 dog bites in Kennewick and 18 of those were caused by pit bulls. That number is between 2014-2018. In Pasco, there was 201 — 18 by pit bulls. Both cities have breed-specific legislation. However, Schoenwald said Pasco utilizes the exemption option.

In Richland, who doesn’t have the breed-specific legislation, had 83 dog bites and 10 were done by pit bulls. Schoenwald hopes these numbers will sway the city council members to lift the permits.

The meeting will start at 5:30 p.m. on Nov. 5 at Kennewick City Hall.