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Tuesday, July 7, 2015

SIKESTON

Posted Tuesday, December 11, 2012, at 9:28 AM

(Photo)
This is Slater, an adult male Pit Bull availabe through Missouri Pit Bull Rescue. You can find more information on Salter and all the Pit Bulls available by going to their website http://mprgroup.net/. In this season of miracles, please consider adopting or fostering to allow these wonderful pets the opportunity to know the love of a home! (Photo courtesy of Missouri Pit Bull Rescue)
For almost a week I have been bombarded by the news out of Sikeston Missouri regarding a supposed "round up" of Pit Bulls. This is a story that quickly went viral on the internet and while there was some truth to it, it has been grossly exaggerated and sensationalized.

Sensationalized journalism has always been the enemy of the Pit Bull. In this case, the same tactics condemned by the Pit fanciers themselves, have been condoned by those same critics. I for one will not be a party to this behavior but will share my observations in this forum.

It is true that the City of Sikeston has restrictions on breeds they have deemed "inherently" dangerous. I do consider this a waste of effort but I am familiar with this area and know why they felt they needed breed discriminatory language in their ordinances. Just like many of these small communities, they have a huge problem with irresponsible dog owners but instead of addressing the owner, they chose to take the lazy path and hold the first victim of irresponsibility responsible for their own behavior. It is a fact that the Pit Bull is the first victim of abuse, neglect and dog fighting. By ignoring the true problem, the criminals are being sanctioned to continue being a threat to our streets and our breed.

Pit Bulls have been so sensationalized in our media that they are becoming barely recognizable to those of us who are true lovers of this breed. Not only are they being mass produced by backyard breeders, by a standard set by the media but they are being further destroyed from within the ranks of those professing to love them. Good intentions have become just as deadly to these dogs as those that would exploit them as a source of pocket change.

There have been accusations of lying thrown about regarding this story. I agree there has likely been some falsehood but I have to wonder where that misrepresentation of fact has originated. I would suggest those promoting this slanted story look a little closer at the facts and the owner screaming her dogs were seized illegally. I would further suggest the supporters of this story examine their own motivations for not stepping up to immediately correct the information originally reported.

First, in small communities it is not that difficult for the city officials to investigate infractions of local ordinances. Most towns and subdivisions have restrictions on what can and cannot be present on their streets. In the case of restricted breeds, there are not that many registered with Sikeston and it is not inconceivable that they were simply doing an audit of owners. The fact is three dogs were seized in violation of the city code. Maybe they expected more but the bottom line is only three dogs were actually taken. The city has since suspended their audit.

Enforcement is always an issue in most communities. I have long said you can enact all the rules and regulations you want but if there is no enforcement, it is wasted effort. Do I agree with a sweep targeting Pit Bulls? Of course not but in this case I do recognize that Pit Bulls are truly at risk in this community. I do agree that some of these owners need to be monitored. Call it stereotyping or profiling, I really do not care, for me it is about the safety and well being of this breed.

Since this story broke on Wednesday, December 5, I have watched as many, many people have condemned the actions of the City of Sikeston. What I have not seen, is anyone stepping up with a solution. Someone very dear to me opened a meeting for a legislative advocacy group with a very simple statement "Don't bring a bitch, if you don't bring a solution". Armchair managers are the majority in any controversial topic but they are not effective at problem solving. They can incite the masses this is true but they do little to fix the issue.

In the case of Sikeston, I do not want to see the Sikeston Area Humane Society fall back into the condition it was in before coming under the care of the present director. I would very much like to see reform of their animal control ordinances employing generic dog rules that are fairly enforced across the board. Sadly, at this point I am not sure the city council will be open to suggestion or even receptive to solutions. The road to hell is truly paved with good intentions and in this case, the Pit Bull will take a step closer to the gates.



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Melanie Coy
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Melanie Coy has been a pit bull fancier for 29 years. She's also been involved in obedience and other training and showing animals. Coy became involved in animal legislative issues in the mid-80s to dispel myths about the pit bull breed and fight against breed-specific laws. She advocates responsible dog ownership through training and educational programs, and helps shelters make dogs more adoptable.
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