Following state lead, Enumclaw to allow pit bulls

The city council unanimously agreed the ban exemptions on July 8.

Signs like these around Enumclaw may soon be replaced, when Enumclaw’s prohibition on pit bulls will officially change starting in January 2020. Photo by Kevin Hanson

Signs like these around Enumclaw may soon be replaced, when Enumclaw’s prohibition on pit bulls will officially change starting in January 2020. Photo by Kevin Hanson

The state was the one doing the knocking, but it was the Enumclaw City Council that opened the door and welcomed in pit bulls.

With a quick and unanimous vote the evening of July 8, elected officials took the formal step necessary to allow the much-discussed breed to claim formal residency.

The welcome mat isn’t being extended immediately, however. The city action — officially known as Ordinance 2659, an amendment to the Enumclaw Municipal Code — takes effect Jan. 1, 2020.

By way of background, the city has for the past two decades disallowed the maligned canine generically referred to as a pit bull. By city definition, that means “any Bull Terrier, American Pit Bull Terrier, or Staffordshire Bull Terrier or American Staffordshire Terrier breed of dog.” Also outlawed is any mixed breed that includes any of the four types.

The city does, however, make allowances for pit bulls participating in a sanctioned dog show or serving as a licensed service animal.

Enumclaw is one 27 jurisdictions throughout the state imposing some sort of breed-specific ban. Often, it’s pit bulls that are legislated out of town, but some have included Rottweilers and mastiffs.

The story took an abrupt shift earlier this year when the state Legislature tweaked the practice commonly referred to as breed-specific legislation. Lawmakers ruled, by a healthy margin in the House of Representatives and a slim majority in the Senate, that dogs should be judged on their actions rather than their appearance.

The wording out of Olympia made it simple: “While the legislature recognizes that local jurisdictions have a valid public safety interest in protecting citizens from dog attacks, the legislature finds that a dog’s breed is not inherently indicative of whether or not a dog is dangerous and that the criteria for determining whether or not a dog is dangerous or potentially dangerous should be focused on the dog’s behavior.”

The bottom line: cities are allowed to keep their ordinances against pit bulls but owners have a legal way to get around the breed-specific ban.

What the Legislature approved — and Enumclaw now supports, effective with the coming of a new year — is a plan that will allow pit bulls who have passed a test proving they’re fit for city living.

The industry standard is the Canine Good Citizen Program, a product of the American Kennel Club. Effective Jan. 1, 2020, any pit bull passing the Good Citizen test will be allowed in Enumclaw. The allowance is good for two years and is eligible for renewal. The new city code also will allow dogs that pass a “behavioral test” equivalent to the AKC’s program.

There are 10 items on the Canine Good Citizen test: accepting a friendly stranger, sitting politely for petting, appearance and tolerating grooming, walking on a loose lead, walking through a crowd, sitting and staying on command, coming when called, reaction to other dogs, reaction to distraction, and supervised separation.

Removing the “keep out” sign as it pertains to pit bulls wasn’t the only action on the City Council’s brief, 47-minute agenda. In other matters, the five members in attendance:

• heard Mayor Jan Molinaro announce that vacancies exist on the city’s Park Board and Library Board.

Anyone interested in applying can visit www.cityofenumclaw.net and search for “Boards & Commissions Application.” Or, interested candidates can e-mail Deputy Clerk Catrina Craig at ccraig@ci.enumclaw.wa.us or call 360-615-5627.

The process also includes a short interview conducted by the mayor and the selected candidate will need council approval.

The Park Board vacancy is for the remainder of a term that expires at the end of the year; however, there is the potential for reappointment to a full, four-year term. The available seat on the Library Board expires at the close of 2023. Each board meets once a month.

• were reminded that a public hearing on “single family residential design standards” is planned for the next council meeting. That session begins at 7 p.m. Monday, July 22, at City Hall.

Community Development Director Chris Pasinetti explained a planned amendment to the city books would “provide for a more diverse housing stock” in Enumclaw. Specifically, the new code would allow flexibility for driveways and front-yard setbacks while clarifying how regulations are implemented.

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