Five years ago, the city of Springfield, MO passed a law heavily restricting pit bull type dogs. Owners are required to have heavy insurance policies, license their pets and dogs must wear muzzles when in public spaces.
Since the law was enacted, Springfield has impounded more than 1700 'pit bulls' and pit bull mixes -- and killed more than 1500 of them --an average of nearly 1 a day. This is in part because the city doesn't think restricting them is enough -- but they also insist on killing all 'pit bulls' that come into the shelter that are not reclaimed by their owners. To put this number in perspective, in 2006, the city licensed 620 'pit bulls' -- now the number is closer to 300. This means that hte city has succesfully slaughter 3.5x more 'pit bulls' than they were ever able to even register.
In spite of the ramant killing (or maybe because of it), Animal Control in Springfield says they think ordinance is working.
"Before the ordinance in 2005 animal control says about a third or 33% of all dog bite complaints involved pit bulls or pit-bull mixes. In 2010, the number dropped to 11%. 'It's always better to do something as opposed to nothing' said animal control supervisor Randy Barnts. "We saw what happened before and what happened after the ordinance. Obviously the situation has improved greately."
Execpt, really, it hasn't.
In 2005, before the ordinance was passed, Springfiled had a total of 102 dog bites -- 34 of them by 'pit bulls' (it's telling to note that because of 34 dog bites by 'pit bulls', more than 1500 have been slaughtered -- seems as if a law killng 44x the number of biting dogs is a bit over-reaching, no?) In 2010, they had a total of 104 dog bites, 11 by pit bulls.
So, they decreased the number of attacks by pit bulls (which is bound to happen when you kill 1500 of them over past 5 years), but dog bites have stayed essentially the same. Or if you put it another way, while the city has been busy rounding up 'pit bulls', dog bites by all non-pit bull type dogs has risen from 68 to 93 -- a 37% increase. Success indeed.
One city council member, Doug Burlison, continues to fight for a repeal of the law -- so that the city will focus on dangerous DOGS, not specific breeds. He notes that the impound and death criteria for 'pit bulls' is very subjective and inconsistent. It is a tough road for Burlison as the city staff seems content to define "working" any way they want -- especially if they consider it 'working' when no decrease in dog bites is seen and the city is just spending thousands of dollars capturing and killing 'pit bulls'.
It's an ugly situation - and has been from the start. I wish Mr. Burlison success -- and hope the citizens of Springfield will make their feelings known about this terrible situation.
For more commentary on the recent news article out of Springfield:
Bless the Bullies - Springfield, MO pit bull ordinance a success....seriously??
Stop BSL -- Springfiled, MO: Stats don't back up claims of BSL success
KC Dog Blog -- Springfield, MO looks to possibly re-address breed specific law -- this is a post that puts together more statistical data on Springfield from roughly a year ago.