Pit bull advocates pushing for change in Pasco

TRI-CITIES, Wash. -- It's a new day for Kennewick pit bulls as the city ordinance removing their classification as 'dangerous' is now in effect.

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But advocates tell Action News they're not finished yet.

They say next they're going after a similar code in Pasco, defining pitbull terriers as 'potentially dangerous animals' and enforcing extra precautions pit bull lovers are calling too strict.

Pitbull advocate Ashley Schoenwald says the City of Pasco is still requiring dog owners to jump through too many hoops to prove their pitbull isn't a threat.

"It's more than basic obedience training requirements like 'sit' and 'stay down'," she explains. "It also includes meeting a stranger, politely meeting a dog they've never met before and a seperation anxiety test."

Schoenwald says it's important for people to train their dog and keep him from situations where he may give chase, but says pitbulls are no more a threat than other large dogs.

"We want to make the city aware and the residents of Pasco aware," she says. "There are quite a few other dog breeds biting people more often than pitbulls in the City of Pasco."

She says her team scoured animal control records for dog bites in Pasco between 2014 and 2018.

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In all there were 201 counts of dogs biting humans.

Of those 201 dog bites they found:

  • 18 from pit bull terriers
  • 28 from retrievers
  • 23 from German shepherds
  • 22 from herding breeds (heelers, Australian shepherds, border collies)

"And," she says with a smile. "Just like in Kennewick the top dog-bite came from chihuahuas."

  • 42 from chihuahuas

Schoenwald says rules like the one in Pasco keep the misinformation against pit bull terriers alive in people's minds and it has an effect.

She says there are plans to present a petition to the city council, requesting they rethink the policies in place.

The animal advocate says she hopes to have it circulating next year.

Both Tri-Cities Animal Control and the Benton-Franklin Humane Society say pit bulls are harder to adopt out.

"They stay longer in the shelters because some adopters don't want to deal with permitting," explains Deb Sporcich from Tri-Cities Animal Shelter and Control.

Another troubling fact: Sporcich says pit bull owners are less likely to look for or pick up the animals if they're from a town with those extra requirements.

Liz Lech with Benton-Franklin Humane Society says it's harder to find homes for pit bulls: "With Kennewick losing the BSL (Breed Specific Legislation), I hope that changes!"

Trish Trickit founded the Pit Bull Pen, a pit bull rescue in Benton City.

She says they currently have more than 40 pitbulls looking for their forever homes.

In the meantime they're almost out of room, so she's slowly restoring a old building on her property.

Trickit says she's also feeling hopeful because things started pickup up right after Kennewick changed its ordinance.

She says the rescue is seeing more potential pitbull adoptions than usual.

"We get calls and apps every day," Trickit says. "We're up to 45 pending applications and before we'd maybe have 10 at one time."

She says the number of applications since last week's announcement prove how detrimental discriminatory practices against dogs can be.

"We want to educate people about the breed and get rid of the concerns and the stigma, because 90 percent of them arent like the stereotype," Trickit explains. "They just want to please us every day."

That's why she says the application process takes so long.

"I want to make sure they're a good fit," Trickit says.

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