Austin Miller/The Daily Express
Kirksville Police Chief Scott Williamson is proposing an update to the city’s ferocious animal law.
There has been an increase in dog bites reported this year, Williamson said during a city council study session Monday. After 22 bites in 2018, 24 in 2019 and 13 in 2020, 37 bites were reported in 2021. Some dogs were repeat offenders, Williamson said, although most of that data is incomplete. He said there was a case of a dog biting two dogs, and then one person after that.
Williamson hypothesized that comes from increases in pet ownership last year when the pandemic began, with less training available. And now, dogs that probably got a lot of attention in the home last year don’t.
So his suggestion is that when an owner is notified by the police that their dog has been declared vicious due to a biting accident, they have 10 days to sterilize and microchip the animal either at a humane society or a licensed veterinary office.
The part of spaying, Williamson said, is preventing an aggressive dog from breeding with another and passing on those traits. And the chip factor is that the police department can better track down the evil dogs.
“One of the issues we’re having right now is our inability to identify a dog as a dog that bit someone six months ago,” Williamson said. “There are no dog fingerprints. This will give us a way to name the dog, and have a way to scan it and say, ‘This is the same dog that bit someone six months ago.’”
Williamson also wants to have pictures of the dogs in the future to help with this concern, too.
Another part of the proposed change is that if the owner wants to transfer the dog to someone else, they must notify the new owner and the police department.
Williamson worked with the Humane Society of Adair County to create this proposal. They said these policies are in line with other cities and towns.
Williamson said state law is strict when it comes to dog bites. Under this law, if a dog bites a person or animal and then does it again, Williamson said animal control should destroy it.
“We don’t want to go out to destroy a pack of dogs because the owners are not responsible,” Williamson said. “That kind of would give us a way maybe to cut back on some of that without violating state laws.”
If the owner does not comply with the law, a violation will be issued to him. Due process with the court system progresses from there, just as it does under the current city ordinance.
Missy Decker, director of the Humane Society of Adair County, spoke about how the humane community is a low-cost option for sterilization and precision shipping. There is an agreement in the shelter where veterinary students from Mizzou perform surgeries, which reduces the cost. The cost of doing a microchip in the humanitarian community is about $10. Decker said it would be about $40 at another vet’s office.
I think that’s a deterrent with having their animals sterilized and sterilizing most people. They say, “Oh, it’s $300.” “Those who have dogs that are not well-behaved and who bite outside are most likely the ones who can’t pay the $300 vet bill,” Decker said. “So we’re able to do that for $60 or less.”
The city council must pass this change to the law for it to take effect.