Leader Blues

Friday, October 10, 2008

TOP STORY > >City collars 137 pit bulls

Leader staff writer

“It’s as if we don’t have a pit bull ban at all,” says Hedy Limke, supervisor of Jacksonville’s Animal Control Department.

Even though Jacksonville has had a ban in place for about two years, Limke says this year alone her department has picked up 137 pit bull or pit mixes.

Of those, 101 have been euthanized.

Of the 36 returned to their owners, six were registered, 30 were not, and all were banished from the city.

“Most of these pits were running loose when we picked them up,” Limke says. She says owners then have 48 hours to contact the shelter and make proper arrangements for the dog.

Those arrangements include showing proof of rabies shots, making an appointment to have the pit bull spayed our neutered, and having the dog micro chipped. Then the dog must be moved outside the city limits.

“Before we release a pit bull back to the owner, they must provide us with the dog’s new address outside the city limits,” Limke says.

She adds, besides the shots, the neutering and the micro chipping, the owner is charged a $100 service charge and given a citation that could cost the owner up to another $500.

“If we see the animal within the city limits a second time, it is destroyed,” she says.

Limke doesn’t understand why so many pit bulls are being found in the city, but say its “crazy out there.”

“We got in five more pit bulls just last week, it’s like there’s no ban,” she says.

Luckily, she says the increase in loose pit bulls have not resulted in a rash of pit bull bites or attacks. “We’ve only had two bite-related cases this year, so that has definitely gone down,” she says.

Sherwood had a run of pit bulls in May and June, says Robin Breaux, supervisor of that city’s animal control department.

“We’ve had our ban in place since the late 90s, and average five to 10 a year, but when Gravel Ridge became a part of
Sherwood in May we had an increase in pit bulls.”

Breaux says in May the city took in six pit bulls from Gravel Ridge and 15 more in June. “We didn’t take anyone’s dog away, these we all pit bulls that were running loose.”

She says most pit bull or pit mixes that the shelter get in are destroyed. “We just can’t take a chance. Our number one priority is to protect the public, but we do currently have one pit bull up for adoption who is a real sweetheart.”

But Breaux says the pit bulls that the shelter decides are safe enough to be adopted just don’t go to anyone. “We do a home visit and inspection before releasing the animal,” she says.

Both cities do require all animals to be vaccinated and licensed. In Jacksonville the licensing fee runs $30 if the pet is not neutered or spayed and up to date on shots, $5 if spayed and neutered and free if neutered and up to date on shots.

In Sherwood a license costs $3 and can be obtained from the shelter or local vet when the animal receives rabies shots.