Springfield's expanded pit bull ordinance is having some unintended consequences as there are more reports of stray dogs turning up both inside and outside the city limits presumably from owners who are dumping them off.
It is understandable that many pit bull owners are frustrated. The ordinance, passed in early October, bans any new pit bulls in the city limits starting on January 1, 2018.
And for those current owners to keep their pit bulls, there's a long list of things they must do now to follow the city government's guidelines. They must pay a $50 registration fee every year, embed a microchip underneath the dog's skin, have the dogs spayed-and-neutered and vaccinated for rabies, post a sign on their property that they own a pit bull and keep their pets muzzled and on leashes if they go off that property.
And one of the unfortunate offshoots of that red tape is that some owners are choosing to abandon their pets.
"We could tell it was playful but it didn't have any tags and we couldn't tell who it belonged to," explained Sandra Johnson in talking about a stray pit bull that recently jumped a fence into her backyard on North Weller street in Springfield. And with no owners in sight, she reluctantly called the humane society to have it removed.
"I've noticed a lot of them running around free," Sandra said. "We don't know if it's a friendly one or a bad one so to be put in that situation is really not a good thing."
And Sandra is no pit bull hater. Her daughter Samantha owns a beautiful, docile pit bull named Boo. And Samantha is a member of the "Don't Bully my Bully" group that sought to have the ordinance dropped. She's bothered that its passage has caused some people to shirk their responsibilities as pit bull owners.
"Honestly I think it's ignorant," she said. "There's no sense in trying to get rid of the dog or dumping the dog. Because now the dog has to scrounge for food and fight other wild animals. That dog's life is gonna be hell."
The Humane Society has also been inundated with pit bull calls since the ordinance was expanded.
"We are getting a ton of phone calls from people who found a stray or people wanting to surrender their pit bulls," Human Society director Sally Nail said.
And while there is a lot of disagreement about the ordinance itself, everyone seems to agree that dumping dogs is not a way to solve the problem.
"It makes us feel awful," Nail said. "We certainly don't want people to dump their animals. We want to be part of a team along with the rescues in town to find a solution,"
"Look into rescues," added Samantha. " Look into actually finding them a good home. Look for friends and family that have farms and live outside of Springfield. Don't just get rid of them."