We make the front page of the Union Bulletin!

Council to revisit dog issue again
By Jim Thomsen of the Union-Bulletin

Buddy could be considered a potentially dangerous dog.
But the 3-year-old American pit bull terrier, owned by Shana Blumenberg of Walla Walla, displayed none of the ferociously lethal qualities often attributed to the breed during a recent visit to his fenced backyard Howard Street home.
He frolicked with his little daughter, Mokey, strutted proudly for guests and nuzzled against his owner in a playfully naked bid for attention.
"If you let him,'' Blumenberg said with a smile, "he'll lick you to death.'' And that, she said, is as deadly as Buddy gets.
Buddy is a show-quality pit bull, pedigreed and registered, and bred specifically for conformation and temperament, she said. He's been socialized, obedience-trained and has met the stringent criteria necessary to win Canine Good Citizen status from the Blue Mountain Humane Society.
"I have to be aware of how people perceive the breed,'' said Blumenberg, who has owned pit bulls for five years. "As a pit bull owner, I feel I have to be more responsible. The main thing is the environment - that's 80 to 90 percent of how a dog is going to turn out, regardless of the breed.''
Dogs like Buddy are the reason the Walla Walla City Council is leaning strongly against breed-specific restrictions in its new animal control ordinance, which is scheduled for a second reading and possible vote at the council's Wednesday meeting.
The ordinance, at its July 11 first reading, included language that singled out pit bulls and Rottweilers as "potentially dangerous dogs'' and led council members to discuss the possibility of banning those breeds within city limits.
Several local pit bull and Rottweiler owners, including Blumenberg, turned out to testify that the potential dangerousness of such dogs could be directly linked to how they're bred and raised by their individual owners.
R. Randal Son, executive director of the local Humane Society, was among those who told council members that breed-specific restrictions hadn't worked well in other cities and hadn't done anything to reduce dog attacks and bites.
A rash of such incidents in recent months had triggered the new look at the city's longtime animal law. Pet owners believe the dogs in those incidents came from a minority of people who bred and trained them for aggressive behavior, employing such techniques as putting gunpowder in their food to give them stomach ulcers and seal their surly temperaments for activities such as fighting and guarding illegal activity.
As a result, a majority of council members signaled their desire to avoid breed-specific language in the new law, and City Attorney Tim Donaldson redrafted the law to reflect that.
In the ordinance being considered, "only dogs designated for notice after a problem occurs will be considered potentially dangerous,'' Donaldson said. "And the ordinance has provisions allowing for an appeal if a particular dog is designated as potentially dangerous by an animal control officer.''
Given the sentiments of council members at the July 11 meeting, Donaldson said there's a good chance the revised version will be passed into law Wednesday.
That will come as a relief to owners like Blumenberg, a Washington Animal Foundation member who will work with fellow organization members to step up a program of education and training for dog owners and the general public alike.
"If you're going to be a responsible owner, you've got to do the responsible thing,'' she said.
In the meantime, Blumenberg will continue to take Buddy to Northwest dog shows, continue to take him for walks in the local parks - and continue to let children pet him.
Yet she's pragmatic about how her pit bull is perceived.
"This breed should not be sugar-coated,'' she said. "They're not for everybody.''
The Walla Walla City Council meets at 7 p.m. at its chambers in City Hall, 15 N. Third Ave. The meeting is open to the public.

©Walla Walla Union-Bulletin 2001


Council calls time-out on park funding
By Jim Thomsen of the Union-Bulletin

...In other business, the council approved a new animal control ordinance with no ``breed-specific'' restrictions against pit bulls and Rottweilers.
The council instead passed a "one-strike'' law that calls for the immediate seizure, impoundment and quarantine of dogs that "aggressively attack'' or are "reasonably suspected'' of doing so by animal control officers.
The law is being taken by council members and some local dog owners as an opportunity to launch a widespread education program that teaches people how to behave around potentially threatening dogs and how to responsibly keep them.
The Washington Animal Foundation is establishing a presence in Walla Walla and will follow through with a program that has worked successfully elsewhere.
The council also called for a campaign to license dogs and explore the possibility of implanting microchips in potentially dangerous dogs at their owners' expense to better track them.

©Walla Walla Union-Bulletin 2001

site designed and maintained by starfroggie | 2004 | no photos may be used without permission