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Town and Country Will Reconsider Anti-Pit Bull Law

A local couple challenges Town and Country’s ordinance against Pit Bulls

Three months ago Dr. Kenneth Bentley and his wife Kathleen acquired a two-year old “mutt” from a friend. Their next door neighbor took an immediate dislike to the dog, based strictly on the dogs appearances, said the Kathline Bentley.

The dog resembles a Pit Bull, although not forbidden by Town and Country regulations, a city ordinance classifies a pitbull as a "vicious dog" and places additional restrictions on it because of the "vicious" label. The Bentleys said they don’t know what breed the dog could be and insists that the dog should be judged based on its actions, not its genetics. The Bentleys said their dog has never bitten anyone and is gentle with their family.

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After their neighbor called several times to report the dog being off leash—in a fenced in backyard—the Bentleys decided to hire a lawyer.

But rather than sue the city for an unjust law, they are trying to persuade the city to change its rules. The couple appeared with their lawyer at the Monday night Board of Aldermen meeting to answer questions regarding their dog.

The city is now considering changes to its code regarding dogs. The ordinance would still forbid animals from being allowed to run at large, trespass or be unrestrained by a fence or leash.

But most importantly, the city would remove wording to prevent residents from owning Pit Bulls or dogs that look like Pit Bulls.

Pit Bull Dog: And all of the following dogs:

The Staffordshire Bull Terrier breed of dogs

The American Staffordshire Terrier breed of dogs.

The American Pit Bull Terrier breed of dogs.

Dogs which have the appearance and characteristics of being predominately of the breeds of the dogs know as Staffordshire Bull Terrier, American Staffordshire Terrier or American Pit Bull Terrier.

The current city code restricts residents from owning “vicious” dogs. Vicious dogs are defined as those who have bitten someone without provocation, a dog that has killed another domestic animal or a dog who is a Pit Bull.

The city is also removing wording that would call for its own police department to impound vicious dogs, stating that they are not equipped to transport or house dogs. The city will instead align its code with St. Louis County and allow St. Louis County Animal Control to take care of dangerous animals.

The Town and Country Board of Aldermen approved this ordnance for its first reading on Monday night. They will make a final vote in two weeks on Monday August 6.

Editor's Note: This article was corrected Aug. 10 to explain that pitbulls are allowed in the city of Town and Country, but are classified as "vicious" and have specific guidelines based on that classification.

Elissa Bass July 24, 2012 at 01:07 PM
Legislating against a breed is ridiculous. Species-profiling is as bad as racial-profiling. There are no bad dogs - just bad owners. The fact that is is written into a community's book of ordinances is mind-boggling to me: "The current city code restricts residents from owning “vicious” dogs. Vicious dogs are defined as those who have bitten someone without provocation, a dog that has killed another domestic animal or a dog who is a Pit Bull."
Denise Bertacchi July 24, 2012 at 01:42 PM
The surprising thing is how the ordinance just targeted pit bulls, but no other "vicious" breeds. I'm just curious to see if this will start a trend of cities reconsidering their laws.
Bonnie Krueger July 24, 2012 at 03:54 PM
Dalmatians, pit bulls, Norwegian Ridgebacks, chows....they COULD all be considered 'vicious' dogs. There are breeds that are more likely to bite or be more aggressive without provocation. I saw (not third person--I witnessed) a 'friendly' Dalmatian bite a chunk out of a little girls cheek as she went over to pet him--and he was her best friend's dog who knew this little girl well. The fact is ALL dogs can potentially feel threatened and lash out without provocation. To limit it to 'pit bulls' does seem almost like profiling. I don't think it is always a 'bad' owner as much as too much inbreeding or having a predisposition to being more aggressive.
Matt Cooke July 24, 2012 at 06:32 PM
Denise, the trend of BSL has already been reversing. This is just one more step. Wentzville went to a breed-neutral ordinance.. Troy is looking to do the same. The state of Ohio undid statewide breed discrimination and the city of Cincinnatti followed suit lifting their ban. Miami has it on their ballot next month to repeal a 20-year long ban. More and more people are realizing this is bad and discriminatory policy. It doesn't make communities safer. The Calgary model of addressing poor ownership has had great results in reducing serious bites and promoting public safety. There are no vicious breeds. Only vicious owners.
Jen July 24, 2012 at 09:02 PM
Well, that sort of backfired on the neighbors, now, didn't it? What a waste of law enforcement resources to phone police for a non-aggressive dog in its own fenced back yard just because of its looks. This is a prime example of the fallacy of BSL and how it affects innocent dog owners.
Jen July 24, 2012 at 09:04 PM
P.S. Bonnie - As an adult, I was bitten by a neighbor's Dalmation that I asked permission to pet. It resulted in a chomp to the hand and a trip to emergency. BUT, I'm not frightened of Dalmations and have since learned much more about dog body language, regardless of whether the owner says its friendly or socialized.
Eric July 24, 2012 at 09:12 PM
pitbulls attack and maul more people than any other dog. It's that simple. They should ban them nationwide. To say that people are discriminating against pitbulls is really ignorant. 31 U.S. fatal dog attacks occurred in 2011. Despite being regulated in Military Housing areas and over 650 U.S. cities, pit bulls led these attacks accounting for 71% (22). Pit bulls make up less than 5% of the total U.S. dog population.
Elissa Bass July 24, 2012 at 09:18 PM
In 2010, according to the FBI, there were 8,775 deaths in the United States caused by firearms. There were 12,996 total murders in the US that year. Using your 'pit bull math' the U.S. should outlaw guns, no?
Matt Cooke July 24, 2012 at 09:30 PM
What Eric just said is incredibly false. 100% guarantee his "statistics" are from dogsbite.org which is a blog by a mentally ill woman who failed as a fortune teller (http://whoiscolleenlynn.com/). Her stats are massaged and that's putting it nicely. If you follow her blog she will call anything possible a pit bull if it has attacked anyone. Shepherds, labs.. Don't matter.. It's always a pit even if it can be confirmed otherwise. Then she uses the most narrow definition for what pit bulls are when it comes to population of dog breed. This is bad bad junk science (http://pitbulletinlegalnews.com/pro-bsl-experts/dogbiteorg/116-dogsbiteorg-dogbite-qstatisticsq-the-fox-guarding-the-henhouse). There is plenty of good information out there on the failure of BSL, the media hysteria over pit bulls, and the fact that pit bulls are no likely to attack than any other breed (http://www.nationalcanineresearchcouncil.com/blog/%E2%80%9Cpit-bull%E2%80%9D-not-implicated-in-controlled-studies-of-dog-bite-risk-experts-report/). They are merely more likely to be kept as pets by people who shouldn't have pets at all much less larger dogs (this doesn't mean all PB owners are like this or even a majority). BSL is discriminatory, pointless, only works to make communities less safe by not addressing root causes, it demonizes and kills innocent animals, and costs responsible owners their family-members. All in the name of justifying people's irrational fears.
Matt Cooke July 24, 2012 at 09:32 PM
So far this year there have been 14 fatalities (btw you're more likely to die from a fallen coconut statistically), and 2 have been confirmed as being by pit bulls. The same as labs.
Matt Cooke July 24, 2012 at 09:33 PM
To understand the root cause of something you can't simple pull out one factor. Any scientist will tell you this. That will only prove a correlation, not a causation. And that is aside from getting your information from a reputable source which dogsbite.org is not.
Denise Bertacchi July 24, 2012 at 09:36 PM
That's it, I'm starting a petition to outlaw coconuts. The horror must end!
Matt Cooke July 24, 2012 at 09:42 PM
Basically blaming a breed for an irresponsible owner's actions/inactions is akin to blaming low-rider cars for high crime because they can be found in the same areas. Ban the low-riders!
Matt Cooke July 24, 2012 at 09:48 PM
To clarify this. Pit bulls do not account for 71% of fatalities. 40% may be a more realistic number. They also account for much higher than 5% of the dog population. Including mixes (cause they sure as shoot include mixes as the biters) it's more likely to be around 30 if not 40 or 50% (visit a local shelter if you think that's too high). There may be a small correlation by breed and bites but it's not nearly as significant as the inflated 70% to 5% junk science stats. Compared to that lie it is pretty small. And can be explained by any number of other social factors involved with dogs, who chooses to own what dogs, how they socialize them, do they fix them, are they in poverty and thus more likely to be less educated and thus know how to properly care for a dog. These kinds of issues are very complex and simplistically using bad math to smash it down to one root cause that maybe can correlate is incredibly shallow.
Matt Cooke July 24, 2012 at 09:50 PM
Unneutered males can be correlated with over 90% of fatalities (I've heard as high as 98%). Considering unlike breed (which is usually identified visually and that is completely unreliable), this can be 100% verified this seems a better place to start with addressing root cause. Though still you can make an argument for social factors such as is a person who leaves a dog unfixed also more likely to poorly socialize them and leave them loose in the neighborhood.
Matt Cooke July 24, 2012 at 10:02 PM
And if my numbers on % of fatalities and % of dog population sound wishy-washy it's because they are. And no reputable expert on the subject will give you hard numbers because they can't be reliably achieved. There is no census for dogs. And the CDC even stopped keeping tops on bites by breed because they can't be reliably verified. I'm going to say that again. The CDC has STOPPED KEEPING TRACK OF DOG BITES BY BREED. It is unreliable and media hysteria (which often cries a pit bull attacks then later retracts on page 24 later after the attention has died down) is often all there is to go on. If someone tells you Pit bulls account for this hard % of the dog population and are responsible for this hard % of fatalities they are feeding you a line of rubbish. Breed can not be reliably identified visually (even DNA testing is up in the air). Try this test and see if you get it right http://www.pitbullsontheweb.com/petbull/findpit.html . Bet you didn't get it.
Eric July 25, 2012 at 02:17 AM
It was confirmed on snopes that pitbull owners are about as smart as the violent dogs they have. Good thing nobody on this blog has one. The cool thing is that the owners are all unified. When someone sees their pitbull, 100% of the time they say "This is one of the nice ones" "He would never bite anybody". . I love to hear that when you should never trust any dog much less that breed.
Matt Cooke July 25, 2012 at 04:40 AM
So... You're admitting to us that you actively go off of your bias and prejudice? You're basing your opinions off of stereotypes. Inaccurate ones at that. You just showed everyone all they need to know about you.
Matt Cooke July 25, 2012 at 04:40 AM
And you didn't respond to a single word I said. Just more hatred and and discrimination.
Matt Cooke July 25, 2012 at 02:15 PM
And really... Directly after I said get your information from reputable sources you quoted "snopes.com". Man, you don't get it at all. But that's pretty much par for the course for dog haters.
Robin Ragsdale July 25, 2012 at 02:34 PM
Top 10 Misconceptions About Pit Bulls http://www.toptenz.net/top-10-misconceptions-about-pit-bulls.php
Robin Ragsdale July 25, 2012 at 02:36 PM
Eric, you pulled that snopes thing out of thin air. Show your sources when you make ridiculous statements like "It was confirmed on snopes that pitbull owners are about as smart as the violent dogs they have."
Matt Cooke July 25, 2012 at 02:42 PM
Robin, you're talking to someone who uses a fortune teller's blog for statistics. LOL. I don't think you're going to find a lot of credibility behind that. And the statement doesn't even make sense. It's like me saying "junkscience.com confirmed that all people who own chihuahua's keep them in their purse and treat them like decorations." It's not even a statement that one "confirms". It's nothing more than a stereotype. And the ironic thing is Eric and people like him who want the world to conform to their irrational fear are really the ones that don't have much going on upstairs.
Jen July 25, 2012 at 02:45 PM
And your statistics come from where, Eric? Even the CDC says there is no reliable way to determine which dogs bite the most because there is no reliable way to determine a dog's breed unless it is a papered purebred. There a lot of research out there from many, many sources. I suggest you dig a little deeper.
Jen July 25, 2012 at 02:47 PM
Thanks for the laugh, Eric. I certainly fit your profile. I think this comment qualifies for the Inane Comment of the Week on Pit Bulletin Legal News.
Jen July 25, 2012 at 02:54 PM
Hi Matt, you and I obviously follow the same sites. People like Eric most likely will never care enough to educate themselves. I just hope some day that he will realize, like many others have that were frightened of pit bulls, because he obviously is, that it's a false fright. When will people learn to look behind a dog breed at the circumstances of the dog's life? A friend who lives in the country had his chickens killed by the neighbor's Lab and then on a different occasion his ducks killed by a neighbor's Irish Wolfhound. So I suppose using Eric's logic, Labs and Wolfhounds should be banned too since they may next turn on humans. But the reality is that the neighbors are irresponsible letting their dogs run loose and destroying/killing others' pets.
Jen July 25, 2012 at 03:02 PM
So Eric, an article like the linked one makes you feel good? People serving our country suffer even more by military housing bans. http://stubbydog.org/2012/07/military-pet-policies-tear-families-apart/
Matt Cooke July 25, 2012 at 07:09 PM
Jen, I'm actually one of the admins for PBLN, so definitely try to keep my finger on the pulse of the issue. :) Unfortunately there is a lot of misinfomation for people that don't wish to (or aren't capable of ) thinking critically on the issue, that people like Eric will do a shallow google search and find. Ugh.
Jen July 25, 2012 at 10:46 PM
Ah, Matt, it all makes sense now where I've heard your name. I listen to PBLN blog talk radio and am one of the t-shirt recipients. Keep up the good work. I love PBLN.
Julie Green August 19, 2012 at 04:02 PM
NOT BEHAVIOR, NOT THE BREED!!! CAUSE IT'S THE HUMANS, WHO SENDS THE ENERGY TO THE BREED!!! STOP BSL FROM MAKING THE BIGGEST MISTAKE, THEY WILL EVER MAKE!!! IT’S NOT THE BREED OF AN ANIMAL, THAT’S THE PROBLEM!!! IT’S THE OTHERS, THAT INTIMIDATED WITH THE BREED!!! ONCE YOU ARE INTIMIDATED BY THE BREED, THAT SENDS THE ENERGY, THAT YOU’RE FEARING THE BREED!!! IF YOU DON’T FEAR THE BREED, THEY WON’T ATTACK, UNLESS THE OWNER SAYS THAT ONE WORD FOR THE BREED TO ATTACK!!! THAT’S ANY ANIMAL, NOT JUST THE BREED OF A PIT BULL OR ONES, THAT LOOK LIKE THE BREED OF A PIT BULL!!! YOU TRAIN THE DOG RIGHT, & LET YOUR DOG GO THROUGH TRAINING THE RIGHT WAY, & QUIT SENDING OFF ENERGY, THAT YOU’RE FEARFUL OF THE BREED, I GUARANTEE YOU’LL HAVE A LOVING PET OF A BREED, THAT WILL NOT ATTACK!!! JUST LETTING PEOPLE KNOW, THAT IT’S NOT THE BREED ITSELF, HUMANS HAS GOT TO BE AT FAULT TOO, IF THE BREED HAS TO SUFFER FROM BEING, WHAT GOD CREATED!!!

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