As everyone in the world seems to know, on Wednesday night news started coming out a roundup of pit bull type dogs in Sikeston, MO. As time grows, and the story gets passed along, things become a little, eh, exaggerated. So I want to provide the most accurate information I can on the situation there.
Earlier this morning, Trace White of the Sikeston Humane Society posted an update on their facebook page. And here are a few more details of the situation in Sikeston:
-- First off, the Sikeston Humane Society holds the animal control contract for the community of 16,000 people. They are NOT animal control -- which is separate. Nor does SHS support the city's pit bull restrictions
-- Earlier this week, SHS shipped around 30 dogs to other shelters in the region in order to make room for the dogs expected to come in. These are the dogs talked about in the news report -- as many were shipped to the St. Louis region.
-- From animal control's perspective, the "roundup" was part of an "audit" of the people who had licensed dogs under the city's pit bull restrictions. The restrictions require registration, Beware of Dog signs, insurance, top and bottom gate locks and requiring a muzzle if the dog is off your property. Animal Control was "auditing' these owners to be sure they were complying. If they weren't in compliance, their dogs were seized.
-- Earlier, Animal Control had estimated that SHS would receive about 20 dogs through this "audit" -- which is why the dogs at the shelter were shipped out. However, due to the push back, animal control never finished their audit -- and Mr. White isn't sure they ever will. Because they didn't finish, the final number of dogs received at the shelter was only 3 (which is still 3 too many). The dogs are going to be held to give the owners enough time to comply with the regulations and hopefully get their dogs back. Mr. White is working with these owners to get their dogs back, and if they cannot, they will be adopted out or sent to rescue.
-- Mr. White agrees that the BSL in Sikeston needs to be changed - and he, himself, moved from Sikeston so he could walk his dogs without muzzles. He does feel that this is as close as they've ever been in his three years at the shelter to getting the law repealed.
-- If people want to help, they can send letters to the city staff and council stating they think the law should change. LETTERS MUST BE PROFESSIONAL AND COURTEOUS in order to be well-received. We should be sure they are focusing on the real goal, which is to protect families from aggressive dogs, and also from having their family pets removed from their home. If you aren't capable of doing this professionally and politely, please don't write to them.
I want to quickly note that I'm very grateful for Mr. White's presence at SHS -- if city shelter workers were of the same mindset as the city, and animal control, many animals likely would have died during this process. Even so, the animals that were sent out to other rescues are still displacing animals in those communities that badly need the shelter space also.
I'm also very grateful that due to the public outcry and support for the dogs and the families, the 'audit' has ceased. This is very good news and thanks to everyone for their support of the dogs and families.
I have a few other thoughts on this as well -- but I'm going to hold them for now until the urgency of the matter blows over.