POPLAR BLUFF, Mo. -- April 1 is the deadline for all pit bulls in Poplar Bluff to be microchipped and registered, according to the animal control officers who will be enforcing the new city ordinance.
"All owners, keepers or harborers of any pit bull or pit bull mix dogs must get them microchipped at a veterinarian and then come to the Poplar Bluff Animal Control Office at 1500 Butler St. [behind Blackwell Baldwin Ford] to register them," Animal Control officer Mark Hastings said.
There is no fee for the registration, but the microchipping will cost about $30. Hours for the Animal Control Office are 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday, Wednesday and Friday and noon to 5 p.m. Tuesday and Thursday.
After the dog is microchipped, it must be taken to the Animal Control Office where the microchip will be checked against paperwork. A photograph of the dog and information about the owner must be submitted. All the information will be maintained in a data file.
"If a registered pit bull is running loose, we can check the microchip and determine who the owner is," Hastings said. "If it is not registered, the dog will be impounded."
Hastings also said the owners of unregistered pit bulls will be cited for unlawful possession of a dangerous animal.
If a pit bull or pit bull mix dies, its owner cannot replace the dog with the same breed, according to the new ordinance adopted by the Poplar Bluff City Council on March 1. The idea is to phase out pit bulls.
"We wanted to give responsible owners a chance to keep them," Animal Control officer Nalynn Hillis said. "Once they are gone, they can't have another one."
She said other Missouri cities like Dexter and Piedmont have banned pit bulls.
Most dog-bite incidents in Poplar Bluff and investigations of dangerous and vicious dogs involve pit bulls.
"At least 50 percent of the dogs in Poplar Bluff are pit bulls," Hastings said.
Hillis and Hastings appreciate the city hiring Joey Woodruff as a part-time animal control officer so they can better enforce the animal control ordinance. Woodruff began working three weeks ago.
Hastings also reminds dog owners that any dog in heat must be kept in an enclosed kennel or building. These dogs also must be physically restrained when let out for a bathroom break.
The officers also had a warning for residents who feed stray cats.
"You claim ownership or responsibility for the cats when you feed them. If we come to your house and you have more than six animals, you will be cited for having too many animals," Hastings said.
He reminded residents that cats must be vaccinated against rabies, but they are not required to have a city tag.