Years after pit bull attack that prompted ban, Independence man calls efforts to lift it ‘a gamble’

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INDEPENDENCE, Mo. -- Hundreds packed the Independence Utilities Center on Wednesday to debate whether the city’s ban on pit bulls should be lifted.

A majority of speakers were in favor of lifting that ban, many of them representing outside organizations who say breed specific laws don’t make communities safer and end up putting a burden on animal shelters.

That argument stems from the fact once pit bulls are seized at no-kill shelters they can’t be euthanized, but they also can’t be adopted either and end up living their lives in cages.

Independence has had its ban since 2006. More than 4,400 people petitioned the city that year to ban pit bulls after Alan Hill was viciously attacked by three pit bulls while he mowed a lawn on a vacant lot he owned.

“I don’t want anyone to ever go through what I went through. If you’ve seen the pictures of what I looked like laying in that hospital, to this day anyone medically, they don’t how I made it," Hill said.

He took cover underneath his Jeep already bleeding heavily.

“I had this hooded sweatshirt on, pulled over my head, got underneath my Jeep, pulled up my legs, put my hands over my chest, closed my eyes and I said, 'Lord please don’t let me die like this,'" Hill recalled.

He spent four months in the hospital and another year in rehab. Thirteen years later, the physical scars are as visible as the emotional ones.

He said he understands those who say it’s not the dogs, but often their owners who can be mostly responsible for any breed of dog's violent tendencies.

But in the case of pit bulls, "I don’t know if it’s worth the gamble. If you’ve seen what I’ve been through, I don’t want anybody to risk it," Hill said.

Anyone can submit testimony  to the Board of Health and Animal Welfare Committee until Nov. 13 by sending an email to bslpublichearing@indepmo.org.

The joint committee will report back to City Council who could take up this issue sometime next year.

Pit bulls already living in Independence homes when the 2006 ban was enacted were allowed to stay provided the owners got them sterilized and licenses renewed annually.

Under the ban right now, you can be fined $500 and jailed up to 60 days if caught with an unlicensed pit bull.

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