Last April, a distinctive black and white pooch named Lucy escaped her yard and found herself in the care of Leawood, Kansas Animal Control. This everyday incident set off a desperate legal battle that remains unresolved.
Even though Lucy’s mom, Kristi Bond, rushed to pick her up the following day, a letter from the city of Leawood soon arrived. They had deemed Lucy a “dangerous animal” because she fit the “appearance and characteristics” of a Pit Bull.
The Battle Begins
The Bonds had three days to rehome Lucy, or she would be taken based on Section 2-102 (k) of Chapter 2 of the Leawood City Code, which defines “any pit bull dog, Staffordshire Bull Terrier, American Staffordshire Terrier, American Pit Bull Terrier, or any animal having the appearance or characteristics of being predominantly of the breeds” as a dangerous animal.
When their three days were up, an armed officer arrived at the Bond home to confiscate Lucy, but Kristi refused to give her over. Instead, she turned to the courts, armed with a letter from her veterinarian declaring Lucy a “Boxer mix.” Unfortunately, the judge was not swayed and ruled on the side of the city.
But Bond refuses to give up the fight. She is appealing the judge’s ruling on behalf of Lucy and all dogs unfairly judged by the breed-specific legislation. Her goal is to have the ban revoked, and she has close to 100 supporters backing her on GoFundMe.
From Sick & Abandoned To Safe & Loved
Updates on the site describe how Lucy was adopted from a local shelter when she was 5-months-old. The pup had a difficult start to life. She was discovered in a crate inside an abandoned home, frightened and suffering from parvovirus. Lucy beat the odds and was soon chosen to spend the rest of her life with Bond and her four children.
According to the GoFundMe page, Leawood City Council will not even put the breed ban issue on the agenda for discussion, despite community support gathered by Bond. The fundraiser is “a last-ditch effort to pay for legal expertise for our hearings.”
The appeal hearing is set for May and if things do not go well, Bond may consider moving.
“I was like, ‘You know, what, I’d like to move somewhere where our taxpayer dollars are spent more effectively,’” she told KSHB Kansas City. “Rather than bullying people who have a friendly family dog who they just don’t like the look of.”
What Makes A “Dangerous Dog”?
According to Dr. Sadie Scott, president of the Kansas City Veterinarian Medical Association, breed bans are outdated and do not make communities safer from dog bites. The law needs to assess dogs on a case-by-case basis rather than painting them with a broad brush based solely on physical characteristics.
She pointed out three characteristics found to determine whether a dog is dangerous:
- Love: Dogs kept outside on a chain with little human interaction are more likely to pose a threat than loved pets that are kept indoors.
- Spay/neuter status: “Animals that are not spayed or neutered have a much higher propensity to cause dangerous bites,” Scott said.
- Gender: Male dogs are five times more likely to cause fatal bites.
Lucy has none of these factors. Dr. Scott also points out that even animal professionals fail to identify breed mixes based on appearance alone.
“Most cases, 60% of the time, we’re wrong on Pit Bull breed,” she said.
In recent years, several other Kansas cities have reversed their ineffective breed bans. Bond hopes Leawood will follow suit. If not, she is willing to relocate her family in order to keep Lucy home safe where she belongs.