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Council chews over pit bull legislation

There is only one reason to repeal breed-specific legislation aimed at pit bulls, according to Bob Baker.

“It doesn’t work,” he told the Oak Harbor City Council Tuesday night during a public comment period on an agenda item that would repeal breed-specific legislation in Oak Harbor.

Baker said the city code is based on “poor legal standards” that increase the potential for lawsuits.

“This is about regulating irresponsible human behavior and not punishing innocent animals just for existing,” said the animal rights activist.

City council members didn’t tackle the issue yet, but set the official public meeting for Wednesday, Nov. 4.

Oak Harbor’s breed-specific ordinance went into effect in 2006 and requires pit bull owners who live within city limits to house the maligned breed in a secure pen and muzzle the animals while on leash, among other restrictions.

Owners who don’t follow the current ordinance could have their dog impounded and could get slapped with a misdemeanor, punishable by a fine of up to $1,000, jail time up to 90 days, or both.

But proper identification is another problem, Baker said.

“Many dogs are mistaken for pit bulls when they really are a lot more like us mutts, mixed breeds,” he said.

Leeon Stecher, owner of a pit bull mix named Angel, also attended the meeting but didn’t speak to the council.

“He said it all,” Stecher said of Baker’s comments.

Police Chief Rick Wallace investigated bite complaints filed over the last four years. Records show only eight of the 43 bites complaints were from pit bulls and two from pit bull mixes. One complaint even listed a cat bite, he said.

Wallace also discovered that the city’s own insurance pool does not recommend breed specific legislation.

The city received a couple of emails from those who support breed-specific restrictions, but no one showed at the meeting to support such laws.

The council will make a decision to either ax or keep the city’s breed-specific restrictions at the Wednesday, Nov. 4 meeting. The meeting will begin at 6 p.m. at City Hall, 865 SE Barrington Dr. Visit www.oakharbor.org to view the meeting agenda.

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