Possible ban on dog breed requirements for housing

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by MORGAN CHESKY / KVUE NEWS and photojournalist SCOTT MCKENNEY

kvue.com

Posted on May 24, 2012 at 6:27 PM

Updated Thursday, May 24 at 6:42 PM

AUSTIN -- It's a unique approach to a problem we simply keep hearing -- too many animals, too little space at the animal shelter. Now an idea pitched at City Hall might bring a few more dogs into neighborhoods.

Family comes first for Daniel Cazares, even if they're born with four legs.
 
"We've had German shepherds, rottweilers, poodles, chihuahuas; pretty much any dog you can name, we've had it," smiled Cazares.

The family favorite is pit bulls. Cazares brought Precious home just a few years ago. Not all large dogs, especially pit bulls, find homes as easily. At the Austin Animal Center, some of the larger breeds have been caged up for almost two months, leaving a problem the City is now trying to change.

"I've had a lot of friends that have actually had to get rid of their dogs to move into an apartment or the house," explained Cazares. "The landlord doesn't want them to have an aggressive breed, but I think any dog can be aggressive."

Wednesday at Austin City Hall, councilman Mike Martinez suggested doing away with breed restrictions as an answer. The concept is far from final. Still, the idea of eliminating the ability to ban a certain breed opens up more doors for those dogs to find homes.

"Typically we'll discriminate against aggressive breeds," explained Chuck Winkley at Metro Realty, who says it's a matter of liability. "That pit bull bites a kid next door or elderly person down the street like that, what kind of situation does that put us in?"
 
The City says new breed policies would only extend to City-invested properties. That includes subsidized housing, but also future homes such as the apartments going up where the Green Water Treatment Plant once stood.

"If we're running a city, run a city," said Winkley. "Protect the people and not the dogs. Worry about the people and not the animals."

The proposal is in its preliminary stages. Martinez has asked the Animal Advisory Commission to come up with a recommendation. That won't be until mid June.

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