South Dakota state senator wants to end breed-specific dog bans, towns bite back
By Kristen Johnson, Multimedia Journalist/ Weekend Anchor - bio | email
NORTH SIOUX CITY, S.D. (KTIV) -
There's an effort underway in the South Dakota legislature to keep communities from enacting breed-specific dog bans. Now, two Southeast South Dakota towns are biting back to keep their pit bull bans in place.
Sioux City's 2008 pit bull ban created a domino effect, as other communities in the tri-state area enacted similar bans.
"Basically made it impossible to own a pit bull in the Siouxland area," Sen. Dan Lederman, (R) Dakota Dunes, SD contends.
Leaders in North Sioux City, and Jefferson South Dakota said their phones lit up after the Sioux City ban passed.
"We did in fact have two that we know of, attempt to move into Jefferson," said Tony Roark, who represents Ward One on the Jefferson City Council.
"And, that put the pressure on us," adds Kory Menken, North Sioux City, SD Human Resources Director, of the Sioux City ban.
In North Sioux, only dogs that are 100% pit bull are banned.
"Pit bulls are the only dog on the list," explained Menken.
In Jefferson, the rules are stricter. Any mix of the pit bull breed is banned. Now, State Senator Dan Lederman, who represents both communities, wants to nullify those breed-specific bans.
"The sad thing is by discriminating against a certain breed of dog, you really aren't helping the problem," Lederman stated.
"It's not the breed. It is the owner,” agreed Roark. He added, “Unfortunately, they're not rescuing dogs from good owners.”
Lederman, who volunteers for the Sioux City based animal rescue group Noah's Hope, said the bans have created a hardship on animal shelters.
"He did a phenomenal job representing them, he did an atrocious job representing us," pointed out Roark.
"The bill is very broad in saying a city can have any ordinance to limit vicious animals. It leaves it open-ended so if they want to enact leash laws, or registration requirements, if they want to have certain breeds be neutered or spayed, that's completely up to them," Lederman explained.
"We do have vicious animal ordinances as well. That's very reactive. It's unfortunately after a bite occurs," Menken countered.
Leaders said being proactive has proven effective. With the bill narrowly passing the Senate 19-16, they're lobbying lawmakers in the House to kill the bill.
"This is a great example of the importance of local control. I think local public safety issues such as this need to be decided by local officials,” said Menken.
Roark said he plans to bring a new measure to the Jefferson City Council on Monday, one that would require a background check on both the dog and the owner, before it's allowed in city limits.
This Thursday the House Committee on Local Government is expected to take up the breed bill in Pierre.
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