8/30/2014

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Does Yakima's pit bull ban really work?

Does Yakima's pit bull ban really work?
YAKIMA, Wash. -- With two people being attacked by pitbulls just last week, we have to ask ourselves if the pit bull ban here in Yakima is working.

"She actually loves kids, she plays with them, she runs around with them, she loves going on the toys, she's just really friendly," said Alexis Garcia.

Alexis Garcia is the new owner of a one month old pit bull. She says her dog loves everybody.

Yet for more than 20 years, the city of Yakima has disagreed.

"We do have zero tolerance, there is a pit bull ban in the city of Yakima. Any pit bull mix or full breed is not allowed," said Joe Caruso, Code Administration Manager.

The city's code administration manager told KIMA there are currently four animal control officers that patrol the city seven days a week. And calls for pit bulls, are all too common.

When animal control takes a dog, it becomes the property of the humane society.

Owners are given a citation of up to $1,100 and have the opportunity to pick up their dog if they can prove that they're sending it outside of the city.

With pit bull attacks still happening almost every year, KIMA asked if this enforcement was working.

"Is there anything more we can do? No, we can educate the public, let them know that there is a pit bull ban and if you get caught with it, it could be very costly in fines and court costs," said Caruso.

In addition to high costs, if the owner of the pit bull refuses to let the city take their dog, they'll be arrested for obstruction.

Yet despite these strict punishments, people keep pit bulls in hiding throughout the city.

Caruso told me some are being used to protect illegal activity.

I pulled the numbers and found that the city received more than 1,200 animal complaints last year, and to date this year it's approaching 900.

"No it depends on how they're raised, and if you raise it how we're raising this one, it's not like dangerous I guess you can say," said Garcia.

Animal shelters throughout the area told KIMA they see lots of pits that have great temperaments and the fault lies with the owner not the breed.

City officials said most of their calls for pit bulls come from the area east of 16th Avenue.
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