In our view: Bad dog
The Joplin City Council got it right when it took no action on a measure that would ban specific breeds of dogs.
Instead, the council will look at ways to make changes in the city’s animal-ownership ordinances that could forbid tethering or chaining as a means of securing dogs, require mandatory neutering and spaying, and strictly cite owners for violations.
It goes back to the old adage: “There are no bad dogs, only bad owners.”
Accidents can happen, but dog owners — those who own any type of dog — who aren’t considering their neighbors, their mail carriers, or the child who might wander into their yard, need to think again.
Some towns have passed bans that are specific to a dog breed. Pit bull breeds or mixes are often the target. When that happens, it often brings out breeder groups from across the country to protest the new law. Along the way, the real problem gets ignored. Instead of looking at laws that will both protect dog owners and the people who live next to the dog owners, the focus gets changed to “bad dog.”
In Joplin, during the past three years, there have been 239 dog bites investigated by city workers. Of those, about one in five were caused by a pit bull or a pit-bull mix dog. But there were 65 other dog breeds involved in bite reports.
Council members have agreed, informally, that new legislation should be proposed to the City Council before the end of the year. Now, as the city goes forward in its discussion, it should consider how to actually increase enforcement. It possibly will need to hire another animal-control officer to make the new laws stick.
We appreciate the fact that the city did not rush to judgment on this one. Rather it is taking a good approach to a problem that plagues every city and town across America.