Several years ago, Sikeston, MO passed a law that automatically made 'pit bull type' dogs automatically declared dangerous. In order for people to keep their dogs, owners had to license their dogs (which included taking multiple pictures of the dogs from various angles), keep them leashed and muzzled, and post 'beware of dog signs in their yards.
However, apparently that wasn't enough for the authorities in Sikeston -- and yesterday, they began rounding up 'pit bulls' out of people's homes to take to the shelter. Most will likely be killed there. It doesn't matter that these dogs were family pets. It doesn't matter that owners did everything to comply with the law. It doesn't seem to matter that the dogs had no history of aggression or complaints about them. It only seems to matter that they look like pit bulls, and the city authorities want them dead. All of them.
This isn't happening in a 3rd world country. Or some science fiction novel. It's happening in the United States. In 2012. And this isn't the only place it's happened.
Several years ago, a similar incident happened in Denver, when authorities began going around and rounding up 'pit bull' type dogs, leading to a massive pile of dead pit bulls in the city (note, the picture at the link may be disturbing). And this is even different than the killing of homeless animals in our shelters (which is its own travesty), this is the purposeful rounding up and killing of people's family pets that HAVE loving homes.
People in Sikeston, Mo should be upset that this is happening. In fact, people everywhere should be upset this is happening. And if you are, sign the petition at Best Friends. And if you're in Sikeston, change all of your city leaders today. This is a tremendous waste of taxpayer funds that could be used to solve many of the city's other major problems.
For those not familiar with Sikeston, MO, here's a bit of the rundown. Sikeston is a community of about 16,000 people in rural Southeast Missouri. It's a poor community, with 35% of the population living below the poverty line. Crime in the city is high, with a crime index in 2010 of 632 (nearly double the national average of 319, and of the poverty level of Sikeston in 2002) -- in spite of the city employing nearly double the police officers per 1000 people (4) than the national average (2.5). So, there are much better places the city could be spending this money.
And if dog bites really are a huge issue in Sikeston, The Fox News report also does a great job of showing the failure of the city officials -- as they captured multiple video shots of dogs roaming at large through the neighborhoods of Sikeston. When one person who's dogs were taken by authorities mentioned the loose dogs, the police told her that "they couldn't catch them". Excellent.
This is the type of thing you get when cities focus on hysterics instead of intelligence in creating their animal control (or any other) ordinances. This is what breed-specific legislation is. And this is why it needs to end.
I do want to tip my hat to the Sikeston Humane Society -- who in an effort to deal with the issue, transferred 35 dogs up to the St. Louis area in order to make room for the incoming animals in order to avoid having to kill for space. They seem to be making a strong effort in spite of a crappy situation created by their city leaders.
Update: There is a new update on the situation in Sikeston -- for the most recent information, please click here.