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Chesterfield Plans to Pull Pitbulls from Dangerous Animal Ordinance

The change will allow the breed to be brought to the Eberwein Dog Park in Chesterfield, a move which drew opposition from Mayor Bruce Geiger and Councilman Mike Casey.

The Chesterfield City Council is moving ahead with plans to remove breed-specific language from its dangerous animal ordinance, clearing the way for pitbulls to be allowed in Chesterfield’s Eberwein Dog Park.

The first reading of the amendment passed 7-1, with opposition coming from Councilman Mike Casey and Mayor Bruce Geiger (a non-voting member of the council in most situations). 

The ordinance currently labels any dog that is mixture of bull terrier to automatically be deemed “dangerous,” requiring the animal to be registered with the city and be leashed and muzzled when in public.

Chesterfield City Manager Michael Herring said the suggested change was reviewed by the city staff and the Chesterfield Police Department. The consensus was that experts in the field feel the breed is as safe as any other. Based on that recommendation, Herring said he put his own personal opposition to the idea aside.

“Having read the research and read the recommendation of the police department I have to acknowledge that there seems to be a body of evidence that seems to point in another direction,” he said.

Councilmembers Connie Fultz and Matt Segal also spoke in favor of the ordinance change. Segal said in his experience as an owner of two dogs of the same breed that looked identical, “you can’t judge a book by its cover.” 

“One would cuddle up with anybody and was no big deal,” he said. “The other I wouldn’t bring within 50 yards of a dog park because she didn’t get along with other dogs. Unfortunately, as a responsible, owner, I had to put the dog down prematurely because of that. At some level, the onus needs to be put on the dog owner to be responsible.”

He added that while a pitbull may look intimidating, it can be as gentle as a “teacup Yorkie.” Like Herring, he also said that the research from veterinarians supports making the change.

Personal Experience Informs Opposition

An important side effect of the change in language is its impact on Chesterfield’s dog park. Essentially, it would allow pitbulls to enter the dog park since they would no longer have to be confined to a leash, which is what the ordinance requires of animals deemed dangerous.

The prospect troubled Geiger, who spoke from personal experience about what happens when a pitbull fights another animal.

“It’s not pretty to watch,” he said. “It is intense and it is virtually impossible to pull that dog off the other dog. I have great concerns about this.”

It was also a problem for Casey, who voted no against the first reading of the bill. Like Geiger, Casey said he felt that pitbulls were more dangerous than other canine breeds.

“It’s not a question of how or when, [a fight] will occur,” he said. “We are allowing a dangerous animal – an animal that was bred for fighting – into the dog park. It’s a bad idea."

Do you agree with the decision to change the ordinance governing dangerous animals? What has been your experience with pitbulls? Tell us in the comments!

Jennifer Peters November 27, 2012 at 01:41 PM
Pit bulls are no more dangerous than German shepards, Rottweiler's and many other large breed dogs if you look at bite statistics. They are very popular and often in inner city area's where crime is rampant. In the hands of responsible owners they are loving, obedient and kind. Breed bans only serve to keep put bulls out of the hands of educated, responsible owners. Studies show they don't work to lower bite statistics. Read the article "Bite statistics and the role of breed," at AVMA.org. This is the stance of the American Veterinary Medical Association.
Linda Day November 27, 2012 at 02:51 PM
Wonderful news! Pits have, throughout history, been family dogs because of their loyalty, love and protectiveness. Just as any other dog can be turned ugly, pits have been demonized by the low-lifes for monetary gain. Bad owners beget bad dogs, regardless of the breed. It's really that simple.
Susan B November 27, 2012 at 03:26 PM
I hope that Mayor Geiger and Councilman Casey are wrong, but speaking as a dog owner who has had troubles with aggressive dogs and their irresponsible owners at the Chesterfield Dog Park, I am very concerned for the safety of my dog now.
christie November 27, 2012 at 07:08 PM
The idea that pitbulls are more aggresisive than another breed is ridiculous....I take my dog to the Chesterfield dog part at least 5-6 times a week. He is a boxer (75lis) and is completely non-confrontational...he runs from any kind of controversy. Small dogs go after big dogs all the time often biting or nipping. No one is going to raise a pomeranan, chihuahau, yorkie etc.to be a "killer", therefore those dogs are not feared while pits, rotts, shephards, boxers etc. are "tagged" as dangerous because they are naturally strong, loyal, protective animals. Dogs, as a rule, don't see size relative. If they did they wouldn't chase cars or trucks. I've had many breeds of dogs...chows are by far one of the most unsociable, unapproachable dogs I've ever been around or owned, yet are not thought to be a danger. Generalities are just that and shouldn't be attached to a particular breed of dog.
Bob Cronk November 28, 2012 at 12:49 PM
Sorry fellow pit bull owners. I do not agree with taking a pit bull type dog to a dog park. 1) if there is a fight the pit bull is going to be blamed for starting it even if that is not the case 2) most people do not watch their dogs when at the dog park. 3) if a pit bull does get into a fight it will win and you had better know how to break up a dog fight. Which is dangerous. The very least thing to be done would be to have a small dog area and a large dog area.
Jennifer Peters November 28, 2012 at 03:26 PM
It seems the bigger issue here is that people are not watching their dogs at the dog park. I am a lab owner, not a pit bull owner, and have never been to the dog park. But I intend to go and I do not have an issue with any particular dog breed, but you can be sure that if any dog is aggressive to my dog or anyone else's I will say something to the owner and report it to the police if necessary. I have no worrie that any put bull owners in Chesterfield will be irresponsible enough to bring their dog to the park if they are aggressive to other animals. Pit bull owners are well aware of the prejudice against their breed if dog. From these comments it is obvious that othe dog breeds at the park have been aggressive. By the way if there is a dog fight , no one will be able to break it up
Mary May December 05, 2012 at 12:22 AM
A friend told me at the dog park she goes to, there was a woman with a very well trained, socialized loved pit bull, that played well with others for months, than started attacking dogs, with the 3rd. one being a lab which almost had it's eye ripped out. There were 3 other bad fights at their dog parks, all involving pit bulls, one almost killed a boxer. You can't take a dog that genetically is trained to kill another dog, (how many other breeds can be trained to do this), and let it loose with all kinds of dogs.
Mary May December 05, 2012 at 12:27 AM
I'm with you, Susan, but if you read any of the pit bull sites, a pit bull has more rights to attack you or your dog, than you have the right to be safe. Go on dogsbite.org, and see how they treat the victims of pit bull attacks.
Mary May December 05, 2012 at 12:30 AM
It doesn't matter if you have a separate area, the pit bull can still damage your large dog.
Lillian Moore December 05, 2012 at 06:32 AM
We have two pit bulls and they are around other dogs all the time and we have never had an issue. Actually our dogs are much better trained than most dogs we see out, they never exceed more than a foot in front is when we are walking and sit on command even if a bone is waving in their face. My nephews pull, punch, poke, chase, wrestle, and cuddle up with our pits and they never flinch. Pit bulls have an extremely high intelligence as well and a high pain tolerance, I couldn't have picked a better breed to have around my nephews and future babies.
Bob Cronk December 05, 2012 at 12:23 PM
Do not bother with dogbite.org it is run by Collen Lynn, who is a web developer not a canine expert. She claims to have been bitten by a pit bull type dog and takes this one event to try to eliminate any dog that looks like a pit bull.. this is basically a hate site. Still I would not take my pit bulls to a dog park. They will be blamed if a fight starts. Plus you can never be sure of the medical conditions of the other dogs at the park.
Bob Cronk December 05, 2012 at 12:25 PM
Mary May.. if there is a large dog area and small dog area... granted a pit bull type dog may be able to hurt your large breed dog.. however the small dog may be killed if it gets in a fight with a large breed dog... pit bull or not. GSD (german shepard dog) and Rotties have also been known to kill small dogs.
Mary May December 05, 2012 at 02:50 PM
Bob, are you ever confused. I have read many articles on there, which are on the news after a pit bull has killed or mutilated a person or pet. The problem is that pit bull owners want to keep denying what their dogs are capable of doing. Why are there not as many rescues for other breeds as the pit bulls? Why are there so many pit bulls in shelters versus other dogs. Most people who have any other breed, and if that dog attacked, them, their child, their neighbor, or the neighbors pet, they would themselves have it put down. So what is with pit bull owners, who under the Lennox project, will take donations to "save" a pit bull who just killed my dog or my child? Yet, these same people will not donate a penny to the poor children who had their faces ripped apart by their wonderful pit bull, and now need years of surgery? Since when has a dogs life become more valuable than that of a child?
Mary May December 05, 2012 at 02:52 PM
Bob, if you read any pit bull site, they themselves tell you not to bring a pit bull to a dog park.
Mary May December 05, 2012 at 02:57 PM
Lillian, if you read what I just wrote, the pit bull at the dog park was the most wonderful, well trained pit bull I had ever seen, yet she did what comes natural to them, attack to kill, you just don't know when it will happen. Another friend's son was almost killed by a family pit bull that was raised with the children for 6 years, do YOU want to take that chance with your children? It's just not worth the risk. There are so many other breeds to chose from, except now that no one is allowed to breed their dog of choice, the pit bulls are taking over the shelters.
Bob Cronk December 05, 2012 at 03:10 PM
Mary May do you know how to read ? I indicated I would not take my pit bull to a dog park. 1) if a fight occurs my dog will be blamed regardless of which dog starts the fight 2) I am never sure how healty the other dogs are at the park.
Bob Cronk December 05, 2012 at 03:13 PM
Mary May the discussion and the article is about taking a pit bull type dog to a dog park. Not if a dogs life is worth more than a child... typical pit bull hater... where in the heck did that come from. Try to stay on the subject.
Mary May December 05, 2012 at 04:24 PM
At least you have sense enough to not take your pit bull to the park, but how about all the others that may have just been adopted from a no kill shelter and that dog was just rescued from a dog fighting operation? The shelter or rescue group won't tell you that, they just want them in a home. Why are you calling me a "hater" . Did I ever once state that I hate pit bulls? NO. You do not know me or my history. I am just stating facts from personal experience. As far as staying on the subject, then all pit bull owners should be happy to leave their pit bulls at home, as recommended by pit bull professionals .
Bob Cronk December 05, 2012 at 05:56 PM
Mary how do you know that a no kill shelter is not going to tell you the history of the dog. You assume way to much and also seem to assume the shelters are irresponsible. Have you adopted from a no kill ... a pit bull type dog that was invovled in dog fighting ? It is going to be pretty easy to tell if a pit bull was a fighter... there will be many scars on the dogs muzzle and body.. I do not think you know much on the subject
Mary May December 05, 2012 at 08:39 PM
Well, Bob, I know a lot more than you may think. A rescue took in 46 dogs, many of them puppies from a fighting/breeding operation. Now, if you know anything about breeding, most breeders of any dog will not breed for aggressiveness. But what do the pit fighters want, aggressive dogs, so of course they will breed the most aggressive parents. Now, as these puppies are "rescued". and since they are puppies and everyone acts like it is a clean slate and can be retrained, sorry, not going to happen. Genetics DOES take over, and that cute little puppy that the rescue and no kill group will tell you will be fine with your children and other pets, will eventually do what it is programmed to do. I can show you incident after incident of people adopting dogs, and within weeks they have attacked. Why take that chance? Again, no other breed will do this and be defended for doing it.
Bob Cronk December 06, 2012 at 12:14 PM
Mary May... we can probably agrue about breeding and genetics until we are blue in the face. Certainly genetics does play some role in a dogs temperment. However look at race horse breeding. You would think breeding two championship horses togehter would create a champion.. if you beleive this I know of a few horse owners that would be glad to sell you a horse. Look at the story of Mike Vick's dogs. Many were killed because they were not "game enough" and I am sure he breed the most aggressive dogs. There are many things an owner can do to over come genetics. Sociallizing your dog with other dogs at a young age. Obedience training and exercise. Dogs do not just fight. The real pit fighters are trained to be super dog aggressive it just does not come. Why do you think there are things called bait dogs? I think you are relying to much on genetics and buying into the all pit bulls are bad dogs hysteria that pit bull haters buy into. Especially if you are quoting dogbite.org
Mary May December 06, 2012 at 03:03 PM
Well, Bob, you just answered your own question. Why are there bait dogs? So, i should adopt a pit bull who was trained to kill another dog which was not a pit bull, a poor defenseless dog who may have been stolen from someone's yard so it can be used as "bait" as you say, which must mean you know a lot about dog fighting. Now, I adopt this poor misunderstood pit bull, because this is the politically correct thing to do, not get my breed of choice, because that would be so wrong. Now I bring this dog home, and do all kinds of training, love the dog, feed the dog, and then one day, he just out of the blue decides to attack my child, or my neighbors child, dog, or cat. Why would any normal person want to take that chance?
Bob Cronk December 06, 2012 at 03:14 PM
Mary May I doubt if any shelter or rescue is going to adopt to you.. a pit bull at least. You would think from what you write that all pit bull type dogs are going to attack children and other dogs. There are over 5 million pit bull type dogs. According to a petsmed study the chances of being mauled to death by a pit bull type dog is .0025 per cent. Rotties and Chows actually pose a higher threat . From your writing and opinion I hope you do not adopt a pit bull type dog. The shelter I vol at actually turns down more applications on pit bulls than they accept. Personally I have owned adopted pit bull type dogs for almost 20 years. I have always had a least two in my house at any one time and I vol at a shelter where I work with pit bull type dogs. You would think I would have lost a few fingers by now at least if you beleive the BS you put out. My choice not to take my pit bulls to a dog park are alot based on prejudice people like you, and the lack of responsible dog ownership of other people.
Bob Cronk December 06, 2012 at 03:16 PM
Incidently I did not have a question why there are bait dogs. I know why there are bait dogs. I in no way condone dog fighting or breeding of any type of dog until the number of dogs PTS in shelters is reduced.
Mary May December 06, 2012 at 04:16 PM
What I don't understand is why do owners of most other breeds manage to spay and neuter their dogs, thus not filling shelters with a ton of puppies, yet the pit bull community keeps on producing more puppies. I am Not a pit bull hater as you may believe, you have no idea as to what I own or what my friends own, I am just stating that the majority of severe dogs fights involve pit bulls. I have no problem with people owning 1 pit bull, but when I see police reports of 4 or 5 pit bulls attacking, that is what is so upsetting. I have friends that had to put their pits down because of aggression, as other dogs, but what I don't understand is why someone will not put their dog down after a horrible attack?
Bob Cronk December 06, 2012 at 05:41 PM
Mary May... you are going to find the pit bull community to be very diverse. There are the people that want a tough dog or a mean dog and breed dogs until they are no good and through them away. Then there are the people who vol. at shelters donating countless hours and a decent hunk of change. All my dogs are spayed or nuetered. I have personally had my vet put to sleep one of my dogs that became very aggressive to my other dogs. Something I still think about 5 years after it happened. However that is just one dog and certainly does not represent all the good dogs that are called pit bulls. I certainly do not think a pit bull is for everyone. I have had dogs since I was 2 years old and owned some pretty big dogs in my life. Hate to brag but a canine behavorist who personally trained with Cesar Milan told me you have a certain presence that dogs respect. I know one thing for sure to quote " there were the german shepards, then the dobermans, then the rotties and now it is the pit bulls". There is always going to be a type of dog that "bad owners" will want to exploit.

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