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Pit Bull Owner's License: Alderman Proposes Targeting People, Not Their Pets

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Flickr: stephskardal
Flickr: stephskardal

As the Chicago City Council considers regulating pit bull ownership after a rash of recent violent incidents involving the breed, one alderman thinks the city should focus more on the owners than their dogs.

The city considered banning the breed entirely in 2007, but the measure did not attract enough support to become law. The issue is back on the table after a pair of pit bulls attacked a 62-year-old jogger, causing injuries that caused him to lose his left foot. That same week, a police dog was injured in a fight with two unleashed pit bulls.

Ald. Bob Fioretti (2nd) and City Clerk Susana Mendoza co-sponsored a resolution that calls for a series of City Council hearings to "make recommendations for legislation to reduce the number of animal attacks," according to the Chicago Sun-Times. Fioretti says he believes the result is more likely to target owners or handlers, and the resolution specifically seeks regulation that is "not breed-specific."

Fioretti also suggested that mandatory spay and neutering could be included in the legislation, which has been proven to reduce dogs' "propensity to roam," he told the Sun-Times.

But feelings about the breed's nature have been mixed. An Iowa judge returned a pit bull to a disabled former Chicago police officer in December, after the city had passed a ban that forced 65-year-old James Sak to surrender his pet.

"This case is a sad example of what happens when cities discriminate against dogs based on breed or appearance," Kim Wolf, a community engagement specialist with a foundation that helped Sak fight for his dog's return, told NBC Chicago.

Whatever the city decides, the call for new regulation policies will likely benefit from the city's push for stricter enforcement of existing license rules, launched by Mendoza in late October.

See coverage from the jogger attack: