A pit bull puppy named Niner stole the show at a protest rally in Medford Tuesday.

A pit bull puppy named Niner stole the show at a protest rally in Medford Tuesday.

The words "Don't ban me" on Niner's shirt summed up the feelings of the 35 people who showed up at the Mayor's Fountain across the street from City Hall.

"They should look at the owners, not the dogs," said Kim Parliament, whose family owns the 31/2-month-old puppy. "They are such a strong animal. It's important that you teach them rights and wrongs."

The rally was organized after the City Council last week asked the city's Police Advisory Committee to recommend ways to deal with dangerous dogs.

Medford police have recorded 89 attacks by dogs in three years, of which more than half were by pit bulls or pit bull mixes. Police also say pit bulls are the dog of choice for drug dealers.

Some cities across the country have banned pit bulls, while others have opted for sterilization or muzzle laws. In some cases, cities have banned pit bulls and other breeds considered dangerous from city parks.

The Police Advisory Committee will hold a public hearing to seek suggestions on ways to deal with dangerous dogs.

The council wants the committee to come up with a recommendation that will offer a proactive way for law enforcement to deal with dangerous dogs. Also, the committee has been asked to recommend a stair-step approach to deal with irresponsible dog owners.

The council has asked for recommendations by April.

Madison Parliament said she wanted a pit bull all her life and got her wish with Niner.

"My cousin had one," said the 19-year-old Medford resident. "It was the sweetest dog I ever met. It cuddled with cats and babies and everybody else."

Ben Welch, a 52-year-old Medford resident, said the city should insist on residents getting their dogs licensed.

He said most pet owners are responsible and shouldn't be penalized for dog owners who aren't.

He says he's owned various breeds of dogs before, but his pit bull Pig is special.

"He's got more personality than any dog we've owned," he said. "He loves to go on walks and he's addicted to his tennis ball."

Summer Nault, a 34-year-old White City woman who helped organize the rally, said it's not clear what direction the City Council will take regarding pit bulls. While Mayor Gary Wheeler said there wouldn't be any breed-specific ban, other councilors said everything should be on the table, she said.

"It's not really crystal clear," Nault said.

She said she would support a "yellow" leash law, in which a dog's leash would have something yellow attached, such as a ribbon, to warn others the dog might not get along with other animals or people.

Rachelle Long of Phoenix said the city should go after the bad owners of dogs, not the dogs themselves.

"You can't ban a breed — it's just ridiculous," she said.

Reach reporter Damian Mann at 541-776-4476 or dmann@mailtribune.com. Follow on Twitter at @reporterdm.