Editor’s note: Notice the title of this post is not “Springfield, Missouri Believes Breed-Specific Ordinance has Reduced “Pit Bull” Euthanasia.” That’s because killing perfectly innocent, adoptable dogs, which most “pit bulls” are, is not mercy killing. It’s just killing. Indeed, the article below raises more questions about Springfield’s “euthanasia” practices and it’s breed-specific ordinance restricting “pit bulls” than it answers. For instance, are we to understand that Springfield passed a breed-specific ordinance restricting “pit bulls” because the city had no money for a proper dangerous dog (owner) law? And if so, then how can the city now say that the breed-specific ordinance is working if the city also had no funds to enforce a dangerous dog (owner) law?
Also, those who claim breed bans or breed-specific restrictions have been effective in their city may have simply stopped labeling every attacking or biting dog in their city as a “pit bull,” a “breed” of dog that doesn’t exist. As such, there may only be the perception that their breed ban or breed restrictions are working. Ontario is a good example of how passing a breed-specific law (BSL) doesn’t reduce dog bites. In fact, in some cases BSL actually increases dog bite statistics because Animal Control is too busy trying to enforce BSL and isn’t policing the entirety of the dog population like it should.
The other thing that can sometimes happen is that in cities (like Toledo) where Animal Control has killed so many “pit bulls” — which can be any breed, their lookalikes, or mix the dog warden wants it to be — there are hardly any dogs left, let alone any that could bite or attack. Is that what has happened in Springfield? Springfield reports that they are killing far fewer “pit bulls” as a result of their breed-specific ordinance, but is that only because, like in Toledo, they had already put so many to death? Or as already noted, did they just stop mislabeling every Boxer or mixed-breed a “pit bull”? Or did “pit bull” owners pick up and move away or re-home their “pit bulls” after the breed-specific ordinance was passed? (We certainly heard from “pit bull” owners in Springfield who promised to do just that.) Or did Springfield “pit bull” owners go underground? Or all of the above?
As is the case with most breed-specific laws, there is a lot of fallout from the BSL that was passed in Springfield. Judging from the furor then and now over Springfield’s breed-specific ordinance, there are far more progressive-minded individuals who did and do not want BSL in Springfield, than who do. As former Springfield Councilwoman Mary Collette has urged, perhaps it’s time for Springfield to look at a comprehensive dangerous dog (owner) law to replace the archaic and ineffective breed-specific ordinance Springfield now has in place.
From the Springfield News-Leader:
The Springfield City Council is again studying policies regarding animals and has already zeroed in on two topics — the pit bull ordinance and the current animal shelter.
…Along with some outside help, including former Councilwoman Mary Collette, the [Plans and Policies and the Community Involvement] committees hope to address issues with animal care in the city.
The meeting began with a two-page list of discussion topics but quickly centered around the city’s controversial pit bull ordinance and the status of the current city animal shelter.
The ordinance, passed while Collette was on the council, requires that pit bulls be microchipped, the owner pay registration fees and the dog be spayed or neutered, along with other restrictions.
Collette, a vocal opponent to the pit bull ordinance, said she feels that many want the ordinance to be replaced with a vicious animal ordinance that would cover all dangerous animals, not just pit bulls.
Kevin Gipson, director of the Springfield-Greene County Health Department, said he never liked the breed-specific ordinance, but said it has done good in the city, specifically leading to far fewer euthanizations of pit bulls by the health department.
He said the ordinance resulted from a desire to reduce the number of vicious dog attacks in the area.
“There was an outcry from citizens to council, ‘Do something about this,’” he said.
Because there was no money to be put behind the effort, Gipson said, the pit bull ordinance was the easiest and most cost-effective way to address the problem…
Read this article in its entirety here.