Liberty voters overturn Pit Bull ban by slim margin, dangerous dog ordinance updated

LIBERTY, Mo. -- Pit bulls will soon be allowed to live in the city of Liberty after a measure to repeal the ban passed during the April 2 election.

Many people were excited to not only legally own a pit bull, but be able to own any kind of dog they want. However, the win was slim, and the city's mayor, Lyndell Brenton, wants people to know their safety comes first.

Carrie Potter loves her dog, Marley, but in the year Potter has owned her she's been illegal within city limits.

"We were just overjoyed," Potter said. "They are just amazing with children. They are just the ultimate family dog, and they are just the best cuddle bunnies."

Since the 1980s, Liberty banned residents from owning pit bulls. The vote to repeal it only passed by 133 votes, with about 48 percent of Liberty voters saying they don't want the dogs in town.

Jessica McKinney worked on the repeal for two years and leads a Facebook group called Liberty Pit Bull Alliance.

"There's not going to be an influx of pit bulls coming in," McKinney said. "This wasn't a mission to get people to own pit bulls. We don't want people to run out and get pit bulls. This was just about people being able to choose what kind of breed fits their home, and bring in a family pet that fits their home."

Dakota Foster lost her pit bulls, Nitro and Diesel, when they were seized by animal control because of the pit bull ban.

"They were like my kids," Foster said. "They were everything. I took care of them. They took care of me more than anything. They were really protective."

Mayor Lyndell Brenton says the city restructured and greatly added to their dangerous dog ordinance ahead of the vote to help ease the minds of people in Liberty. They will judge if dogs are dangerous based on a specific scale, and hold owners accountable to it.

"The last thing we do want is someone in the public to be hurt, and quite frankly I think people on both sides of the issue -- neither of those folks want somebody to be hurt by any dog," Brenton said.

The ordinance also outlines consequences for owners, and their dog, if they are found to be dangerous through the courts. They range from high levels of insurance, mandatory micro-chipping, sterilization, to humane euthanization. The full ordinance can be found in their Code of Ordinances in Chapter 4.

Brenton said it's important for residents to communicate with animal control if they are having an issue with a dog of any breed in the city. He said make sure you go through the full process -- and don't just call.

"If a report needs to be filed they need to participate in that process," Brenton said. "We’ve found sometimes citizens are fearful of a dog, but they don’t want to go to the next step - which is file a complaint."

However, he said it's important for residents to only call with real threats, and hopes down the road this won't be an issue, and dog owners will be responsible for their pets. McKinney agrees and said the changes to the ordinance are a good thing.

"Trust in that," McKinney said. "That that's going to protect us, and we're going to hold the owners responsible. We're going to be out in the community educating how to be responsible pet owners, and we'll be a resource for the community as well."

Potter said she's excited to be able to walk Marley down the street, and people can see her as a positive example for the breed that many are afraid of.

"I think it will be great going to like Liberty Fall Festival, and the farmer’s market," Potter said. "Being able to just walk her around and not be in fear of having to look for the police, or animal control around every corner, because she needs the exercise just like we do."

Pit bulls aren't legal in Liberty yet. The city council will have a meeting to read the repeal on April 8. McKinney said she expects it to go into effect by the end of the month.

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