Group in Carthage looking to get city to repeal pit bull ban

CARTHAGE, Mo. – Many communities in the area have some kind of breed specific legislation, or “BSL’s” on their books. What that means is specific breeds, in most cases, pit bulls and pit bull mixes, are banned in those areas.

One of those communities is Carthage. But one group is working to change that.

Christian O’Neill is a Carthage resident and a dog lover who decided it was time to make some changes to Carthage city ordinances, specifically, the pit bull ban. “I gave a brief presentation, gave them some information about some studies that have been done regarding pit bulls and breeds and dog bites.”

That presentation was at a public safety meeting in January, which is overseen by the police department. Greg Dagnan says “However at that point no action was taken, so at this point it’s not even officially on the table we’re not even talking about it.”

Chief of Police Greg Dagnan says there’s a good reason they haven’t acted yet. “That is mainly because there are two bills that have been filed in the state on the house side which would make it illegal for cities to ban specific breeds.”

Chief Dagnan added that they do sometimes run into pit bull’s in the city, typically from new residents registering their dog, and then finding out about the ban. “That’s why we’re somewhat gracious in giving them time to find a good home for that dog or someplace for that dog to be, rather than just say hey, in five minutes you need to be out of the city with this pit bull.”

This is Coco, she’s a pit bull from the Joplin Humane Society who made a stop by our offices today. She doesn’t belong to Christian O’Neill, in fact, he’s never owned a pit bull, which he says just shows his passion for dogs. “I’m definitely not doing this just for my own personal gain, I want everyone to choose what breed of dog they may like, my family personally isn’t a family that chooses one breed over another, we’re going to go with the dog we meet that seems to have the personality for our home.”

Carthage does have a vicious animal ordinance on the books that covers animal attacks and bites and O’Neill says it’s more than sufficient. “You could pretty much just completely erase the pit bull ban and still be able to maintain a safe, as long as those are enforced as they are.”

The legislation to prohibit breed specific bans in Missouri is still in the house right now.

In addition to Carthage, Cherokee County and the City of Pittsburg also have pit bull bans on the books. And in most cases they not only ban pit bulls but pit bull mixes.
However, the City of Sarcoxie just recently lifted their pit bull ban, citing an inability to enforce the ban effectively. Additionally, Joplin and Oronogo do not have breed specific bans.

Joplin does have a ‘no tethering law’ however, that prohibits any dog from simply being tethered in a person’s yard, the dog must be in a kennel, or a fenced yard, or indoors.