The saga in Sikeston continues.
Last week, news started to come out of Sikeston, MO that animal control officials were beginning to round up pit bulls in the community for non-compliance with the city's 9 year old breed-specific laws.
City officials contended that allegations were not true, and were never true. And the final results of the roundup, where 3 pit bulls found their way into the shelter for "non-compliance" may have indicated that city officials were right.
But as with all things, there are two sides to every story, and it appears the story being told in the community is very different than the story being told by city manager Robert Friend (and really, shame on the Sikeston Democrat for not even trying to connect with the other side of this story).
In the latest report, Sikeston Humane Society Director Trace Allen White contends that he was informed that there would be roundup last week -- and that is why he sent 30+ dogs to other shelters to make room for the influx of dogs to come into the shelter. White contends that due to the public outcry, the city ceased their roundup -- but that the roundup may continue at a later time once the outcry has died down.
Friend denies this charge.
I'll let you watch the great follow-up story by Chris Hayes of KTVI St. Louis. Thanks Chris for the follow-up on this story.
Meanwhile, the city leadership of Sikeston could learn a lot from the outcry and the situation that they've created. Because even if the allegations of the roundup are not true (I believe them to be true), their poorly crafted law is setting them up for this type of feedback. So here is some constructive feedback for city leadership on their law:
1) Make the law behavior-based, not looks based. Not all of the aggressive dogs in Sikeston (and likely not even most of them) are pit bulls, and not all pit bulls in Sikeston are aggressive. This is NOT a wealthy community, and if public safety is the concern, then focusing the limited resources on dogs that have shown through their behavior to be aggressive is by far the best approach. It's fair, an effective.
2) If you confiscate a dog from someone because they violated the law, and you say you identified the dog as a 'pit bull' that wasn't living under the guidelines set forth by the city, your defensive of identifying the dog as a pit bull "by looking at it" is not really going to stand up so well in court. Especially when the dog is listed as a 15-20 lbs dog and lets some random news anchor just hold him in his arms.
3) The US Constitution guarantees Due Process. Your law should too. The current law notes that "any dog found to be subject of a violation of this ordinance shall be subject to immediate seizure and impoundment. In addition, a minimum $500 fine will be assessed..."
So there is no due process. Immediate seizure, and fine. This is not legal.
4) Please, go talk to the experts in your community about breed-specific laws. Talk to your area veterinarians. Your shelter director. Area dog trainers. I don't know any of them, but I can almost bet that they will completely oppose your position on this law as there is almost ZERO professional support for laws targeting specific breeds of dogs.
Leave good dogs with good owners in their homes. There is no reason to add dogs with homes to the shelter population in this state. It only leads to the deaths of dogs. Stop it. It's time to move on from your poorly though-out breed-specific law. The world is still watching.