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Monday, February 18, 2008

Gladstone, Missouri keeps bull terriers on list of dangerous animals

Bull terrier dogs will remain classified as dangerous animals in Gladstone.

For several months, a Gladstone couple — Kirk and Kim Forslund — have raised objections to the city’s inclusion of the breed in its legal definition of pit bulls.

That legal definition was established a year ago when the City Council approved a revised animal control ordinance that classified pit bull breeds as dangerous animals. It also established regulations for new owners of pit bull breeds.

Council members agreed to have city staff review the ordinance last month after Kirk Forslund presented letters from area veterinarians that stated bull terriers are not dangerous.

But on Monday, city staff maintained that bull terriers should not be removed from the dangerous animal classification.

“I’m sure there are some bull terriers that have been socialized and trained,” said City Attorney David Ramsay, “but our animal control officer did not feel there was enough evidence to exclude them from the city’s ordinance.”

The Forslunds, who have spoken at several council meetings, have said they are active members of the Bull Terrier Club of America and Bull Terrier Club of St. Louis.

They have said that the council members who approved the breed-specific ordinance ignored numerous findings that bull terriers are safe.

In a memo to the city, Sgt. Jeff Self, supervisor of the Public Safety Department’s animal control unit, wrote that, through his research, he found that bull terriers were originally bred for bull baiting and ring fighting. And they can be aggressive toward dogs, cats and fleeing animals.

Self added that bull terriers also are included in pit bull ordinances in Liberty and Grandview.

Under the city’s ordinance, pit bull breeds also include Staffordshire bull terrier, American pit bull terrier, American Staffordshire terrier, or a mix or combination of any of those breeds.

Owners of a dangerous dog are required to have a $300,000 homeowner’s liability insurance policy. The ordinance contains a grandfather clause that exempted owners of pit bull breeds that were licensed with the city when the ordinance was passed.

Councilwoman Carol Rudi, who voted against the breed-specific ordinance last year, said Monday that she still does not support such legislation but would stand by the council’s decision not to amend the ordinance.

To reach Mike Rice, call 816-234-5903 or send e-mail to

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