SIKESTON - Noting the subject had gained more notice and resulted in more comments than topics such as the PILOT or Charter, the Sikeston City Council tabled a decision on proposed amendments to the city's animal ordinance following comments from the public during its regular Sikeston City Council meeting Monday.
"We are receiving a lot more information than we had previously," said Mayor Phil Boyer, explaining action on the ordinance is being delayed to consider the additional information and comments from the public.
Gino Wells of Sikeston identified himself as a pit bull owner and said the kennel and insurance requirements will present a hardship to him as he is a renter, not a homeowner.
Wells suggested looking at ways to restrict and punish those raising the animals to fight "instead of raising them to be pets, which is what they are."
Larry Best of Bertrand said he moved from Trotter Street in Sikeston because his grandson was regularly "jumped" by a neighborhood pit bull while residing there.
Best added the city should require the dog pens to be placed in back yards only. He also suggested background checks on dog owners because pets get their aggressive "attitude" from their owners.
"We have an overpopulation of pets," said Steve Williams, a Sikeston veterinarian, adding there is an exceptionally high number of cats and stray cats in the city.
Williams said that is its "training or lack thereof" that makes dogs aggressive, not the breed. Additionally, he said in places like Charleston where pit bulls are banned, owners will claim the dog is actually "mixed" and not the banned breed. "I don't think labeling specific breeds will fix the problem," he said.
Williams recommended requiring pets within the city to be licensed and have a rabies tag as this will also lead to better care for animals within the city.
"The issue is not the breed - its the owner and how it is raised," said Jon Thomas of Sikeston. He asked council members to review information he provided and consider alternatives.
"Our pit bulls are our babies," said Shannon Wolf.
Patricia Lewis said "somebody has to be held responsible" for dogs running loose in neighborhoods.
Animal Control Officer Ken Fowler said irresponsible owners won't license their animals, and that the proposed changes include more than just restrictions on aggressive animals such as defining acceptable shelter, food and water.
He said in addition to safety for people, there are concerns about dogs mutilating other dogs, and that he would be glad to discuss ideas for the animal ordinance.