Jennifer Robinson spent Christmas in the hospital crying because the city took her 10 month old Service dog named Captain away that has done No Harm. The Dog and the girl love each other and are both sad. This is so heartbreaking. As a Letter carrier for almost 28 years, I know too well that there are so many Pit Bulls that are very gentle and friendly. They lick and kiss me in the face. The bad rap these dogs get is so sad. Please let this girl have her dog back. This is so heartbreaking.
Springfield, MO, is one of those cities in the U.S. who enforce breed specific legislation or "BSL", and for the past seven days, Jennifer Robinson has been fighting city hall to allow them to let her bring home 10-month-old Captain. Captain is her registered therapy dog, and as a service animal, he helps her cope with her mental disabilities. According to KSPR, the stress of the situation sent Ms. Robinson back to the hospital today, Dec. 24, while the life of her puppy hangs in the balance at the Springfield Animal Shelter.
Since Captain is a pitbull mix, Ms. Robinson should have followed the rules and regulations when she brought him into Springfield. That is what breed specific laws are designed for - forcing people to go through hoops above and beyond the normal steps to keep an animal in their home, in the thinly veiled hope that they will get frustrated and just won't bring that breed into the community. Breed specific legislation laws do one thing very well: they increase the number of these innocent dogs killed in shelters every year, and decrease their ability to find homes.
According to Bad Rap, BSL is the practice of using laws to regulate and restrict dog ownership based solely on the physical appearance of an animal. In this case, Ms. Robinson's pitbull mix who "doesn't have a single aggressive bone in his body", has fallen victim to the laws of the city. She is not being singled out. All owners of dogs that fall into this category must follow Springfield's rules and regulations. According to the city code, which has been in effect for the past four years,
'it is unlawful to own, possess, keep, exercise control over, maintain, harbor, transport, or sell any pit bull... The owner must sterilize the dog, keep it properly confined, and post “Pit Bull Dog” signs. Failure to comply could result in impoundment and destruction of the dog.'
'The current owner of any pit bull or any person who acquires valid ownership of a pit bull shall be allowed to keep such pit bull within the city only if the owner registers the pit bull with the city and receives a valid registration. Further, any person owning a pit bull who relocates his or her residence to the city shall, within 30 days of relocating their residence to the city, register their pit bull and comply with all provisions of this chapter regarding ownership of such animal.'
Ms. Robinson's mistake was not in bringing Captain to Springfield, but not knowing the city laws. Obviously this situation would not have occurred had she known and obeyed the regulations. However, she doesn't live in Springfield. Do most people know the animal regulations of the cities they visit? Probably not. Still, the city doesn't care that he's a therapy dog. According to the law, it doesn't matter if the dog in question is in the city limits for ten minutes or ten years, the owner must follow the ordinance. Not knowing a law exists doesn't make it legal to not abide by it. However, there must be some sort of leeway given in cases like this.
All Ms. Robinson wants to do is bring him home, out of that city. Suffering from anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, it was suggested by her doctor to adopt a therapy animal. Because of her mental issues, she has some memory loss and does not remember how she ended up in Springfield with Captain. She may have had a mental break, because she ended up in the hospital, and the police sent Captain to the shelter.
'He’s the world to me.'
Robinson and Captain were picked up last week. Seven days later, Robinson still hasn't gotten her dog back and she's turned to local media to help intercede on their behalf. The spokesperson for Springfield’s Animal Control says they hope to reunite Robinson and Captain soon, but first Robinson either has to prove the dog lives outside the city, or comply with the city’s pit bull ordinance.
Some cities in the US have repealed breed bans: Topeka, KS, Cleveland, OH, Oak Harbor, WA and Putnam County, WV to name a few. Lawsuits are currently underway in other cities, who have recognized the futility and unconstitutionality of breed bans. In fact, pitbulls are just the most recent victims of BSL. According to Scribd, 100 years ago, bloodhounds were the breed labelled most vicious. Thirty years ago it was German Shepherds. Then 20 years ago, the "glamour" of being a criminal and owning a pitbull took hold in some communities. Because stories of criminals sold newspapers, the rumor mill was born and perpetuates to this day.
Simply pointing to the appearance of a dog without investigating the human-dog relationship will never prevent anyone from getting bitten. Hopefully Ms. Robinson will be allowed to bring her Captain home very soon