There was an interesting article on the front page of the Kansas City Star regarding the nearly 2-year report on Kansas City's law that mandated the spay/neuter 'pit bull' type dogs. The article calls the results "mixed" but that's being pretty gracious (or misleading). The numbers are similarly on track to the numbers I reported 3 months ago.
According to the article, the number of 'pit bulls' impounded since August 2006 (when the ordinance was passed, even though it didn't go into effect until December of the same year) was 4,000 dogs (in about a 22 month time window). In the 25 months prior to the ordinance being enacted, the number of 'pit bulls' brought into the shelter was 2,600. If you amortize out the intakes (182 per month), that would be 4,550 killed in 25 months. That's a 75% increase in impounded pit bulls since the ordinance took effect.
The number of 'pit bulls killed went from 1600 in the 25 months prior to the ordinance to 2,500 in the 22 months following the ordinance (2841 if you amortize out over 25 months) -- a 77.5% increase.
The number of bites has remained virtually the same (consistent with my numbers).
The Humane Society of the United States estimates that each animal brought into an animal control facility, held for the minimum of 5 days, and then euthanized, costs $117 per animal. So with an increase of 1,241 animals over 25 months that are euthanized cost the taxpayers of Kansas City about $145,000 in fees just for containing and killing these dogs. In 2005 our animal control department only answered 20% of its calls, and according to Mike Schumacher (who oversees animal control), there is currently a 4 hour response time for animal control calls because of poor staffing. This year, our city also cut funding for the Zoo and other services while Mayor Funkhouser suggested closing the shelter due to a lack of funds. So AC is spending a LOT of money that could have been used to hire or train several more animal control officers or for a host of other services our city desperately needs. Where is the oversight on spending?
Interestingly, the article in the Star spent most of its time interviewing the two organizations (Kansas City Animal Control and Spay/Neuter Kansas City) that supported the ordinance two years ago while leaving the opponents, like Kansas City Dog Advocates that testified before the council on this ordinance, completely out of the discussion. And somehow the supporters looked at these numbers and declared that the ordinance is showing signs of working.
"All I can explain to you is that we obviously impound more, and the more we get off the street, the less we'll have out there," said Patrick Egberuare, the new head of animal control (Mr. Egberuare was not involved in getting this ordinance passed, those honors go to his new boss Mr. Schumacher).
The only thing I can take from this quote is that if we kill them all now, there will be fewer to kill later, which will help our kill numbers. ????
Michelle Dormandy, who runs Spay/Neuter Kansas City and also supported the ordinance originally, also found upside.
"If it wasn't for the ordinance, we wouldn't have spayed and neutered as many as we have, but the downside to the ordinance is that there are more dying."
Isn't the point of spaying and neutering to decrease the killing? So if your increasing the killing to increase spay/neuters, is that an improvement? Really? So other than that pesky dying, it's going great!
The article completely ignores that the city has also had several problems with taking people's animals for not being neutered and accidentally killing them in the shelter, even when the owner agreed to get the animal spayed/neutered.
The article also has a nice angle of thinly veiled racism with how these dogs are a big part of the "urban" culture and not as much in the suburbs...because we know that "urban" in this case has very little to do with where the people live.
Here's the thing folks. Enforcing the law is having the following effects:
1) Animal Control is going out and confiscating and killing dogs because they aren't altered (or in some cases, just not licensed). There are reports of cutting locks off kennels and seizing dogs when owners are not present and without warrents. There are possible constitutional violations going on with illegal search and seizures.
2) Because the shelter is overflowing with animals, the 75% increase in impounded pit bulls has led to a 77% increase in the number of pit bulls killed (even though the ordinance was supposed to have the opposite effect).
3) There is no evidence to support that we are even denting the overall population of dogs, as many of these owners are now going out and getting new dogs -- which is increasing the demand for bred dogs (it seems unlikely that these people are running out and adopting dogs at the local shelter that just killed their previous dog).
4) The law has had no impact on the number of dog bites. This isn't increasing public safety so what is the point besides wasting time and resources?
5) All of this has come at a large price to taxpayers, and with a huge waste of animal control resources -- a department that like so many in the city is inefficient, ineffective, and underfunded.
And yet somehow this is seen as "mixed" results?
Mayor Funkhouser, the city council and taxpaying citizens of KCMO should demand a full, independent audit of this department, its policies and its practices. Increasing citizen satisfation with city services was a campaign promise of the Mayor and animal control has been broken for far too long.