Town of Hudson, Wyoming, Considers Lifting Ban On Pit Bulls, Rottweilers

Pit Bulls and Rottweilers are illegal in Hudson, Wyoming, but the town is considering lifting the ban. Nationwide, pit bulls are responsible for 67% of dog-bite fatalities, yet a local vet said they can have successful family lives if well socialized.

Clair McFarland

April 11, 20245 min read

Murphy, the Nation family's pit bull mix.
Murphy, the Nation family's pit bull mix. (Photo Courtesy Amber Nation)

In Hudson, Wyoming, pit bulls and Rottweilers are illegal.

Anyone keeping one of those breeds of dog without an exemption can be charged with a misdemeanor, according to the town’s code.

But that could change, with town leaders developing a new ordinance that focuses on an animal’s viciousness, not its breed.

When Hudson Mayor Sherry Oler announced Tuesday that she had passed a draft code change on to town attorney Rick Sollars and would soon put it out for public comment, a woman in the audience shouted, “Amen!”

It’s a relief to Hudson resident Amber Nation as well, who has an exemption allowing her family to keep their 8-year-old dog Murphy, who is believed to be a pit bull mix. Though her dog is exempt, Nation said she has been urging town leaders to change the code to support other families with forbidden dogs.

Murphy spends most of his time indoors with his family and has a large fenced-in yard to roam. He has both food allergies and double hip dysplasia, so he’s supposed to keep to mild activity levels, Nation told Cowboy State Daily in a Thursday email.

“But he loves kids and forgets that sometimes,” she added. “(He’s) trying to play and run all the time with them.”

Nation said Murphy has not been vicious, and the family has spent time raising and training him.

She asked the Hudson Town Council last month to change its breed ban ordinance. That’s because the town recently started working with a code enforcement officer, so the municipal laws in the town of 500 people have more teeth now.

“I think it will be important for people to speak up when they do the public meeting on the new language,” said Nation, adding that at least one other local resident wrote the council a letter in support of the change, and other families are grateful to see the effort.

‘They Are A Problem’

Pit bulls are statistically the most dangerous breed, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and other study groups. They were responsible for 67% of dog-bite fatalities, or 380 deaths, in the United states from 2005-2020, according to a chart by Other breeds collectively totaled 25%, and Rottweilers alone totaled 9% of the bite fatalities.

Those totals exceed 100% because five deaths involved both pit bulls and Rottweilers, says the chart.

Shannon Sanderson, animal control officer for the nearby town of Riverton, said pit bull mixes and purebreds account for at least half of her vicious animal cases.

Rottweilers, conversely, account for very few, said Sanderson.

“I love all dogs. I love them all,” said Sanderson. “But after coming to work here I see firsthand, and I know firsthand, they are a problem.”

Riverton’s codes don’t ban dogs by breed. But some people, including families who have had run-ins with the breed, have asked Sanderson if they do, she said.

Socialize Them

Dr. Amy Stockton, of the Riverton veterinary hospital The Stock Doc, said families can socialize pit bulls to be friendly dogs.

Pit bulls, Rottweilers, Dobermans and German shepherds all require more socialization than other breeds because they all have a strong prey drive, said Stockton.

“We have to help them manage that and know how to redirect it and not to act on it,” she said.

When people try to raise the more aggressive breeds without knowing how to socialize them, they exacerbate the situation. But when owners know how to socialize the dogs, guide their impulses and avoid aggression-escalating situations, they can “have a very successful relationship,” she said.

Stockton said she’s in favor of Hudson switching to a behavior-focused, rather than breed-focused, dog ordinance.

Other breeds have issues as well, she noted. Border collies, heelers and Australian shepherds like to “keep things organized” and maneuver people, lending a tendency to nip and goad even the people in their home families, she said.

“If we start saying we can’t have this breed or that breed, we can end up including all breeds for some reason or another,” said Stockton.


Sanderson countered, saying she has been involved with some “nice” pit bulls, but she’s also encountered two or three local cases in which families said their pit bulls “snapped,” turning aggressive on child or a family member despite several years of a loving upbringing.

“I like all the dogs,” Sanderson said. “This is just what I see.”

Two Fatalities

While the breeds have not been confirmed to Cowboy State Daily, Fremont County has had a disproportionate number of fatal dog attacks in the past decade.

Since 2014, two people died of dog attacks in Fremont County, while the rest of Wyoming reported just one, a Laramie County resident who died in Colorado.

Neither fatality happened in the town of Hudson. They both happened on the nearby Wind River Indian Reservation.

Fremont County Coroner Erin Ivie confirmed via docket reports that both Fremont County dog deaths were women: Deanne Coando-Tyvonnes, 40, died of multiple injuries from dogs Nov. 13, 2014. And Shawna Jo Bell, 42, died of dog bites and injuries April 10, 2022.

Ivie said she could not confirm what breeds were involved, as the dogs were gone when coroner office investigators arrived.

“DNA on the specimens would come back as canine but there would be no reason for this office to continue testing beyond that,” she said.

In the case of Bell’s death, the FBI confirmed the dogs were domesticated and at someone’s home.

Clair McFarland can be reached at

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Clair McFarland

Crime and Courts Reporter