Bush: Ordinance will regulate, not ban, dogs
According to Sturgis’ top police officer, an ordinance the Sturgis City Council will address on Monday is not an attempt to completely ban pit bulls from Sturgis streets. Instead, Sturgis Police Chief Jim Bush said the ordinance will protect not only the community’s residents, but the dogs themselves.
Sturgis resident Russell Keeton, who was prompted by a July 25 Murray Addition attack that left a cat dead, and a dog and Keeton injured, asked council members to explore the ordinance at September’s first council meeting. Keeton described the attack as “25 minutes of absolute chaos,” and compared the breed of dogs to Africanized bees. “When they start their frenzy, they don’t give up like a regular dog,” Keeton said.
The dogs responsible for the attack on Keeton have been euthanized, according to Bush.
Bush said that the pit bull is not actually a specific breed of dog, but is a term used to describe several different breeds. Most of the time, pit bulls are not that bad with people, but once they are loose and on the run, they have a tendency to attack other animals, according to Bush. Even the dogs in question allowed animal control officers to walk right up to them and pet them before jumping into the animal control vehicle, said Bush. “My collie or German Shepard might get out of the yard now and then, and run up the alley sniffing garbage cans or bark at a cat,” he said. When dogs that fall under the pit bull classification get out of a yard, however, they often times attack another animal. Bush said, “A lot of bites happen in the same way Mr. Keeton was bitten. Dogs are attacking someone’s pet and while trying to get them apart, the owner is bitten.”
Even when animal owners are responsible, as was the case with the dogs involved in the Murray Addition attack, it is still hard to control the animals. Bush said, “The owners of these dogs had done everything they could to try to keep the animals in. They were not irresponsible pet owners. We have to take extra measures to protect pit bulls as well as the animals they may attack.” Bush said that this will include certain confinements and other regulations.
Bush said that for its size, Sturgis has had a substantial number of pit bull attacks, and thus in turn, the city should be proactive and not reactive.
He said, “We are not going to ban them, but regulate them. We are saying that if you have that type of animal, you will have to follow certain restrictions to keep people safe, as well as the pit bulls safe.” Bush said an ordinance regulating the animals is a better way to handle the situation than using the vicious dog act, which deals with an animal after an attack has occurred. In the majority of cases, the animal is euthanized, according to Bush. “Why not try to get something to keep these dogs from having to be put down?” said Bush.
The Sturgis City Council meets at 7:30 p.m., Monday, Sept. 15.
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