Did you know that Springfield, Missouri has Breed Specific Legislation (BSL)? BSL has been repealed in communities all around the United States. BSL ranges from restrictive measures to total breed bans, and can effect German Shepherds, Rottweilers, Chihuahuas, Pit Bulls… really any breed, depending on the legislation. The BSL in Springfield currently restricts owning a “Pit Bull,” which (in Springfield’s case) means American Pit Bull Terriers, American Staffordshire Terriers, Staffordshire Bull Terriers, or any dog displaying the majority of physical traits of any one or more of the above breeds. Dogs that fall under BSL have a laundry list of requirements for ownership within the city limits of Springfield. Springfield ordinance requires that BSL dogs be: registered ($50/year per animal) muzzled while in public spay/neutered microchipped kept in an enclosure with a secure top and bottom (crated or in an enclosure set to certain specifications, meaning they cannot ride in cars without a crate, or enjoy playing in fenced back yards without being leashed and supervised) There are also many other restrictions – just because of how these dogs look.
From 2006 to 2015, the ordinance stated that if these dogs ended up running loose and the city picked them up, they were doomed if not reclaimed by their owners in 5 days. Luckily, advocate groups have been trying to change the ordinance, and while BSL still stands, they have succeeded in convincing city council to allow rescues to save BSL dogs from death row. Last year, only C.A.R.E. (Castaway Animal Rescue Effort) was allowed to save these dogs; now it’s been opened up to any rescue that can afford the one million dollar insurance policy requirements. So far, no other rescues have stepped up to the plate, largely because a $1 million insurance policy is simply not affordable for most not-for-profit rescues. Would you want your dog taken away from you just because you didn’t have the money to afford a muzzle? (We actually try to use Gentle Leaders instead.) What if you moved to Springfield without knowing about BSL and realized you didn’t have the funds to get your dogs registered with the city for $50 each? Suddenly, your dogs are technically “illegal.”
That’s where PAWS comes in. We have helped as many BSL dogs as possible get compliant with the city laws. Tonight at 6:30, City Council votes on whether or not to repeal BSL in its entirety! This would not only free more funds for PAWS to put toward spay/neuter programs to prevent more litters, but also dissolve the discrimination these breeds receive in Springfield. It will allow an old dog who has done no wrong sunbathe in their yard unhindered; a sweet dog to go for a car ride without a kennel; a puppy to go outside for the first time without a muzzle or a gentle leader. We hope tonight will be life-changing for a lot of owners and BSL dogs in Springfield. Good luck!