Seeking a Civil Injunction
Norman, OK - Roman Catholic nuns who operate a preschool near a pit bull kennel are asking a Cleveland County judge to shut the kennel down. This comes on the heels of a recent set back in which County District Judge Barbara Swinton ruled that police could not enforce a new law that broadens local authority to stop a dog kennel from operating near a school.
The sisters are now seeking a civil injunction to stop the kennel from operating in a Cleveland County court. Attorney Kevin Calvey, representing Sister Patricia Ann Miller and other nuns at Villa Teresa Moore School, says Kenneth Gonzales' kennel is in violation of a state law that bans dog kennels within 2,500 feet of a school or day care in Oklahoma City or Tulsa.
Dale Bliss, whose property backs up to Gonzales' land, testified that he and his wife found two pit bulls in their front yard one night in 2006. When he opened the gate, the dogs ran off. The next night, the couple found another pit bull terrier in their yard. Animal behavior specialist Tara Beres testified that an unlatered dog can smell a female dog in heat a mile away.
"Pit bulls will go through anything they have to, to get to them,” she said, "including chain link and wooden fences."
She added that although pit bull type dogs constitute less than 15% of the nation's dog population, they are responsible for 66 percent of dog bites. (Beres' estimate is generous. Most agree that the nation's pit bull population is below 9%.) Sister Veronica Higgins, school principal, said she doesn't want to wait until a child is bitten. "I'd rather be proactive,” she said.
Mickey Homsey, attorney for kennel owner Kenneth Gonzales, says the law is unconstitutional because it applies only to cities with populations exceeding 300,000. Homsey also said there's no record of any dog ever escaping the kennel. Gonzales applied for a kennel license in 2006. He contends his application was deliberately delayed until the law was passed.
06/25/08: Coverage of Catholic Sisters Seeking to Remove Pit Bull Kennel