Yakima's Pit Bull Ban is Still in Place, and Pit Bulls Still Liv - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Yakima's Pit Bull Ban is Still in Place, and Pit Bulls Still Live in the City

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Yakima, Wash. - Pit bulls have become synonymous with dog bites and attacks, so much so they're banned in some cities all over the country. They're even banned altogether in Yakima. That ban has been in place since the late '80's. However, over the years more and more people continue to sneak dogs into the city, hiding them behind fences, locking them away in cages, even keeping them in basements. 

We talked with a woman who wanted to be anonymous. We'll call her 'Maria,' and she has five Pit bulls at her home in Yakima. She knows full well they have been illegal since 1987.

"It's really saddening," said Maria. "It's basically like having to keep my own children locked up."

For Maria, these animals are family. She's kept her pets hidden for more than seven years because of the ban that she feels is outdated.

"The whole persona on Pit bulls is totally false, and it's not backed up on anything except for twenty years ago when there was a problem," said Maria.

She's referring to an attack in 1995. Three Pit bulls jumped a fence into a wheelchair-bound 75-year-old man's front yard, mauling the man and his dachshund. Both the man and the dog died from their injuries. That killing rocked the community, becoming one of the most prolific dog attacks in Yakima's history.

However many pit bull owners say the animals would never hurt a fly. They claim the dogs are only seen as violent attack dogs when certain owners raise them. 

"A lot of them are getting a bad rap, as Pit bulls, but a lot of it is how they're brought up and being raised by their owners, or what they're being used for, a lot of criminal activity," said Joe Curuso with the City of Yakima. 

The city said they do not have dog fighting rings in Yakima but it is an issue in surrounding areas of the Yakima Valley.

"We have had some dogs stolen from property, and these dogs were either ending up dead or pretty well torn up," said Curuso.

They say the problem is getting worse. In 2013, 80 pit bull sightings were reported. That number has almost doubled since then to 172 in 2015.

"They're being hidden at this time by people, they're not out in the open they're in backyards, behind fences, that kind of stuff," said Curuso.

The ban seems to do little to stop owners and Maria says she refuses to believe her parts are part of the problem.

"Pit bulls aren't dangerous, unless that's what they've been taught to do, if they're taught to fight that's what they're going to know," said Maria.

She believes the owners training their dogs to be vicious are the ones that need to be held accountable.

"We shouldn't be punished, my animals shouldn't be punished, for something other people are doing," said Maria.

Surprisingly, Animal Control even agrees that any animal can be vicious given the right circumstance, and singling out one breed is a tricky thing.

The ban was challenged in 2013 but the city council voted to keep it in place and they have no plans to dissolve it at this time time.

So far this year, the city says they've impounded roughly 50 Pit bulls but they say they still have more than 70 of them left to deal with. 

If caught with a pit bull, you could face jail time and thousands of dollars in fines.