Pet Owners Circulate Petitions on New Pit Bull Law
One of the newest ordinances on city books could soon be overturned, if some pet owners in Springfield get their way.
Less than a month after the Springfield City Council approved breed specific legislation that tightened the leash on pit bulls, there's an effort to protect those dogs.
The ordinance, requires registration of pit bulls with the city health department, microchipping, mandatory spaying and neutering of pit bulls, and signs on property fences warning of the presence of pit bulls among other restrictions.
Pit bull owners protested the changes before the Council voted. Now owners, backed by some local veterinarians, are making a last ditch effort to protect animals they say are being unfairly targeted.
Petitions are being circulated to try to force a public vote on the pit bull law - or to prompt the City Council to rescind the law.
Samantha Arnott owns Touch of Sun Salon and is also the owner of a pit bill. She has petitions in her shop, asking animal lovers to push for a public vote. Her dog, Shadow, spends her days at the salon. "Every day she goes to work and hangs out with us. She's the sweetest dog you'll ever find," Arnott says.
Of the pit bill ordinance, she is concerned the City will see Shadow in a different light. "It's short-sighted and narrow minded."
Provisions of the ordinance are enough for Arnott to ask clients to put their name on the petition. "We're against legislation, and more for responsible owners," Arnott notes.
Springfield veterinarian Dr. Tedd Hammaker agrees. He was appointed to serve on a committee that drafted an updated vicious dog ordinance. He feels the committees input was ignored. "Despite what the committee and the public had to say, they passed the law anyway."
Hammaker says breed-specific legislation is ill-advised and could put the community in danger. "It lulls people into a false sense of safety by not addressing compliance of the issue."
Hammaker is backing the grassroots effort and hopes the public outcry might put city leaders face to face with facts they have already been told. "Don't address breed specific legislation - address vicious dogs. That should be more than adequate if enforced."
Arnott agrees. "There are a lot of pet owners who know it's the owner, not the dog."
Youcan find the petitions at many vet offices around town. Also, organizers will be taking signatures at Artsfest this weekend.
Organizers need at least 1,400 signatures by Wednesday, May 10, to either ask the City Council to rescind the ordinance or to schedule a public vote.