By Beau Tiongson
The gavel dropped on what Mayor Annette Fairbanks called “an ordinance pertaining to breed-specific regulations” when the Goodland City Commission voted to pass new regulations mainly pertaining to pitbulls.
A large contingent of pitbull owners and supports saw a majority vote pass new rules for pitbull owners, including an agreement to register all pitbulls accordingly with the city, not allowing pit bulls to go outside of a residential structure without a four foot leash and capable handler, and having the dogs spayed, neutered, microchipped.
“If it was called a pitbull ban, nobody within the city limits of Goodland would be allowed to have that dog,” Fairbanks said in the meeting Monday evening. “It is not a ban. Like we’ve said many many times, we’re helping the pitbull owners keep their dogs and keep them safe and to keep the citizens of our community safe.”
Fairbanks, vice-mayor John Garcia, and commissioners Brian Linin and Jenifer Sanderson passed the ordinance with a 4-1 vote. Gary Farris was the only commissioner to vote against the new rules.
One clause within the ordinance raised concern amongst the audience members. The ratified document says each family is allowed only one pitbull per household, even if the owner has followed all previous laws accordingly and the dogs have been incident-free.
Ricky Banks, a citizen within Goodland who has two adult pitbulls and a puppy living with his wife and three children, stood in the back row and raised his concerns over the one-dog-per-household rule. He agreed to have his dogs spayed, neutered, and microchipped, but cited disowning two of his dogs as unfair.
“I understand the safety for the citizens of Goodland, and I think that there should be a stricter punishment for people who are teaching their dogs to be mean,” Banks said. “I just ask that I don’t have to tell my kids we have to pick a dog and then find a home formy other ones.
“It’s people who don’t take care of their dogs right, who are overbreeding them and teaching them to be mean, that is what’s putting a hurting on pitbulls. Pitbulls are good dogs if they are raised to be good dogs. Our dogs are like our family.”
The commission entertained the idea of grandfathering in people like Banks to the new laws.
“The problem with that is if we get to relaxing it too much, then there’s not much substance to having the ordinance,” Linin said during the discussion. “Then it comes into question of what’s the point of having the ordinance in the first place?”
Doug Gerber, the city manager of Goodland, said that there has been an incident involving a pitbull coming after people and, more commonly over the last few weeks, pitbulls attacking other dogs.
“This is an attempt to get control over the situation so people can walk in their neighborhoods without being afraid,” Gerber said.
Other concerned onlookers shared their testimonies, saying that this is an ownership issue not a breed problem. Linda Quint said that it’s a misconception that pitbulls are naturally aggressive dogs. After the meeting, Juan Pena gave first-hand accounts of owners near his previous home in Alabama who mistreated their dogs and bred them to be vicious.
“We don’t want to take dogs away from good owners,” Fairbanks said. “I don’t see this as a ban in any way, but that’s just my opinion.”
According to Gerber, there are currently 21 registered pitbulls in Goodland with many more populating the city without abiding to city regulations.