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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!

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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