Kennewick City Council repeals breed-specific dog restrictions

KENNEWICK, Wash. — The Kennewick City Council voted Tuesday to repeal legislation that deems pit bulls “dangerous or potentially dangerous animals.”

Until now, Kennewick residents have needed a special permit to own a pit bull terrier, American Staffordshire terrier or Staffordshire bull terrier because city law considered these breeds more dangerous by nature.

The legislation required owners of these breeds to muzzle their dogs to legally bring them in public. They also had to post signs at home warning of a dangerous animal on the premises.

“You don’t have to have a muzzle for your dog and keep them on leash, even in your own backyard in the middle of winter,” said pit bull advocate Ashley Schoenwald. “You can play fetch freely and the dogs can live happy, normal lives.”

Now, dogs will only qualify as a dangerous or potentially dangerous animal if it can be proven that they have inflicted injury on a human, another pet or livestock.

“I’m really glad the council members were able to take in all of the data and the emotional accounts from people who work with dogs every day in our community, who own pit bulls in the City of Kennewick and it just means that our community is moving in a progressive direction,” Schoenwald said.

RELATED: Kennewick City Council expected to vote on breed-specific legislation

Council members discussed two separate options to address the legislation: getting rid of the breed-specific legislation or creating an exemption process for “pit bull-type dogs.”

They rejected the exemption ordinance before approving the repeal in a 4-2 vote.