Pit bull ban up for Springfield voters next week

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. Should Pit Bulls and Pit Bull it mixes be outlawed in Springfield?

It's been a hot button issue for years.

"It's an emotional issue. I've been in public health for 22 years. The most highly charged issues have always have always been around animals," said Clay Goddard, Director of Health for the Springfield-Greene County Department of Health.

People will have to decide if these animals, not already living in Springfield will be allowed to or not.

Goddard said, "The dogs that are currently registered with us, even if the ban passes next Tuesday, would be allowed to be kept by a family until that dog lives it's life."

A yes vote for Question 1 on the ballot means dogs not registered by August 22nd will be forced out of the city.

A no vote means that you can own any dog you choose to, even pit bulls or pit mixes. Owners must follow the laws already in place.

"I can't really advocate one way or the other, what I can do is tell you that, based on our experience with this breed of dog, it's very challenging. It's a very challenging breed," said Goddard.

Sally Nail, Director of Operations "They are big animals. They are very strong dogs."

Local animal advocates and shelters believe the issue is really about proper dog ownership.

"It's not the breed that we educate mostly about. We educate how to handle the dog and make sure you have the right equipment, harnesses, certain collars and things like that are helpful as well," she said.

Most facilities are already filled to capacity with this breed.

"Anything that looks similar to that breed, people have looked away from and shunned away from," she said.

Animal control already keeps tabs on Pits Bulls and Pit Bull mixes. They check to see if they are legally registered only if a complaint is filed.

"It will make things ten times more difficult for us and I don't think anybody knows how to answer the next question and that's what do you do with them if this does pass," said Nail.

Pit Bulls and Pit Bull mixes will not be confiscated but do have to be maintain a valid registration whether this question passes or not next week.

Springfield is considering requiring that all dogs, regardless of breed, be registered. That won't happen for a while.

The matter will be decided by city leaders, not voters.