YAKIMA, Wash. -- Yakima residents could soon be able to own pit bull terriers, legally, once again.
Pit bulls have been banned by city ordinance for more than 30 years, and city councils have voted repeatedly to keep the ban in place.
The ban was even challenged in court for being “unconstitutionally vague,” but the state Supreme Court upheld it in 1989.
Within the past five years, at least one bill in the legislature tried, but failed, to undo breed-specific ordinances, such as the one in Yakima.
Ban supporters say the breed is inherently dangerous, and they cite many instances to prove their point.
For example, in 2014, a pit bull escaped from a Yakima house, attacked another dog and bit three people who tried to separate the dogs.
Three separate attacks by the dogs of the breed prompted the ban’s creation in 1987.
The standing ban defines pit bulls as “any American pit bull terrier, Staffordshire bull terrier, American bulldog or American Staffordshire terrier breed” or dogs mixed with any of these breeds. The minimum fine for the first violation is $250, rising to $500 for the second offense and beyond.
However, residents can get approval to have a pit bull as a service dog if they follow various conditions, including notifying animal control if the pit bull is loose, and the owner must be 18 years of age or older.
Residents against the ban say it’s not necessary because a dog’s breed doesn’t absolutely mean it’s dangerous. Some go as far as to liken it to judging someone based on skin color.
Instead, they say, it’s the owners who are to blame for an animal’s bad behavior.
The arguments will come before the Yakima City Council on Tuesday, where it’s expected to take a vote to repeal the ban.
The idea was brought by Councilwoman Carmen Mendez, who raised the same issue unsuccessfully in June 2016.
YAKIMA, Wash. -- Bad news for pit bull lovers.
At that time, the council voted 4-3 against repealing the ban, with Bill Lover, Maureen Adkison, Holly Cousens and Dulce Gutierrez voting against. At the time, they said they didn’t want to be responsible for dog attacks and cited concerns for residents’ safety.
In other city business next week:
The Yakima Central Plaza Development Committee will meet Monday at noon to discuss amenities that could be added back to the project’s design based on availability of city funds.
The committee is expected to make a list of priorities, which will later go in front of the Yakima City Council to be finalized.
Items that were taken out to bring the project in under budget include a donor wall, skateboard deterrents on some walls and eight trees from the lawn.
The meeting will take place in City Hall’s second floor conference room at 129 N. Second St.
• Yakima Herald-Republic archives were used in this report.