Fairfield may drop pit bull ban after challenge from local woman

The city of Fairfield is reviewing its animal laws after City Council received an email last week about its 13-year-old pit bull ban.

In 2006, the city passed an ordinance to ban pit bulls. Six years later, in 2012, the state removed all references that permitted breed-specific bans, and courts have ruled against communities banning dogs based on breeds.

Katherine Hartung, a dog foster with Middletown-based Joseph's Legacy, emailed City Council on Feb. 15 about its ban. She said Fairfield should instead focus on the conduct of an individual dog as breed-specific ban ordinances “exceed a city’s authority.”

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Also, she said the city "will begin to face (issues) as more and more mixed pit bull-type dogs" as they are trained to be service dogs, thus protected by the American Disabilities Act.

Pit bulls are not a specific breed but a catch-all term for four primary breeds: American Pit Bull Terrier, American Staffordshire Terrier, American Bully and Staffordshire Bull Terrier.

"We're taking this as an opportunity to completely revise the animal ordinance," said Mayor Steve Miller.

As part of the overhaul of its animal ordinances, Miller said the city will also look at laws about tethering, having animals outside in extreme temperatures, leash laws and the number of pets allowed.

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"We also want to look at the classification of the offenses. We need to ramp up and increase the penalties for irresponsible pet owners," he said. "At the end of the day, I want us to be the most animal-friendly community around, but at the same time I want to be the most strict for irresponsible pet owners."

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