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Pit Bull "Round Up" Part of Problem

BSL promotes ignorance and intolerance
By Julia Lane, December 2012, Updated June 2021

Imagine the outrage if towns decreed that all dog owners must purchase a large outdoor kennel, liability insurance, and muzzle their dog while out in public. Should they choose not to comply, or cannot afford to do so, their dog will be seized and impounded; no exceptions. Dog lovers would not simply roll over and submit. So why do pit bull owners in Sikeston, Mo., and many other cities nationwide face BSL (breed specific legislation) discrimination? 


Last week, St. Louis-based reporter Chris Hayes investigated an alleged pit bull “round up” in which 20-30 dogs would be seized from their owners for non-compliance Sikeston, a small town in southeastern Missouri. Soon thereafter, pit bull activists bombarded city hall with questions related to the supposed round up and its laws directed at American Pit Bull Terriers, Staffordshire Bull Terriers and Bull Terriers.


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However, according to the Sikeston Standard Democrat, the mass pit bull round up was an exaggeration; only three pit bulls were seized for noncompliance.


Sikeston Area Humane Society director Trace Allen White further clarified the story on SAHS’s Facebook page. “The Sikeston Humane Society had NO part in the seizing of dogs. ACO and the shelter are 2 completely different entities,” wrote White. “Also the amount of dogs we got in is wrong as well. That day we only received in 3 Pit Bulls for Non Compliance (3 too many I agree). The 20 dogs that everyone keeps reading about was an estimate that an ACO gave me. ...


“I also talked to the City Manager who said that they weren't doing a round up but rather an audit to make sure that the people who had met compliance once before were still in accordance with it. If they weren't then their dog would be seized. I do not know when they will finish this audit. With all this media attention I doubt they even will.


“The dogs we got in are not subject to immediate euthanasia, anyone who knows me knows that I would never do that. The owners are given 10 days to get their dogs back, if they need more time I always work with them. If the owners do not want them back then they are either put up for adoption or sent to rescues.”  


Regardless of how many dogs were taken, why take a companion dog from its home, only to store him or her at the shelter? Is this merely busy work for city officials and employees? Are they more interested in looking good in the eyes of ignorant constituents rather than taking an active role in promoting education and responsible pet ownership?


We teach children at an early age to be respectful of differences. Why is it okay to judge a dog by its appearance or purported breed?


During his report, Hayes had the following conversation with City Manager Doug Friend: “‘Are you sure they were pit bulls that you took?’
Friend replied, ‘We identified them as pit bulls, but not thru DNA.’
Hayes followed up, ‘How did you identify them?’
Friend said, ‘We just looked at them.’”


Friend’s ignorance is astounding. Allowing a dog to be subjectively seized is horrifying. Most people don’t even know what a pit bull looks like. Purebred dogs such as Boxers, Bull Terriers, English Bulldogs, Catahoulas, Mastiffs, Vizslas and many more are commonly mistaken as American Pit Bull Terriers. Think you know what a pit bull looks like? Try the “Find a Pit Bull” test and see how you fare.


While the round up story remains murky, Allen makes his view on BSL crystal clear: “The BSL here in Sikeston does need to be changed. I moved from Sikeston partly because I couldn't walk my own dogs down the street without them being muzzled and trust me, it'll be a cold day in hell when you see my dogs muzzled.


“If you want to help then contact local Sikeston City Officials and POLITELY tell them you would like to see a generic dangerous dog ordinance put in place, one that does not profile breeds and puts more responsibility on the owners because after all the monster isn't on the end of the leash it is the person holding it.”


Does your city have BSL or has it ever been proposed? Are pit bulls available for adoption from your local shelter or are they automatically euthanized at intake?


Julia Lane owns Spot On K9 Sports, a training facility in the Chicago area, and offers online dog-sport coaching. She is the author of several travel books, and her byline has appeared in The New York Times Magazine, Poets & Writers and elsewhere.