ROCKAWAY BEACH — Rockaway Beach Aldermen said they’ll consider next month a new ordinance that could prohibit or severely restrict residents of the lakeside town from owning specific breeds of dogs.
Aldermen heard from resident Larry Still at Monday’s meeting.
Still said he was recently the victim of an animal attack and would like to see the city do something so a similar event doesn’t happen again.
Still said he was walking his small dog near the city park recently when a vehicle stopped next to him. The driver asked for directions.
In the backseat, Still said, were two pit bull dogs. The dogs leapt out of the car’s open windows and attacked Still and his dog.
“The public needs to be protected,” he said. “It’s senseless there can’t be some sort of enforcement.”
City Clerk Susan Kettelkamp said in light of the recent events, Aldermen might consider adopting an ordinance prohibiting pit bulls and other breeds deemed vicious.
Springfield has such an ordinance, established in 2006.
That ordinance outlaws “any dog that is an American Pit Bull Terrier, American Staffordshire Terrier, Staffordshire Bull Terrier, or any dog displaying the majority of physical traits of any one or more of the above breeds, or any dog exhibiting those distinguishing characteristics which substantially conform to the standards established by the American Kennel Club or United Kennel Club for any of the above breeds.”
Those who owned pit bulls prior to the April 2006 establishment of the ordinance were required to have their dogs spayed or neutered and post signs on their property that state there is a pit bull on the premises.
A similar ordinance in Rockaway Beach would require owners to “jump through a lot of hoops,” Kettelkamp said.
Rockaway Beach Police Chief David Flora said even if an outright ban isn’t approved, aldermen could at least consider stricter requirements, such as requiring additional insurance for pit bull owners or requiring the dogs deemed as vicious to be muzzled at all times in public.
Flora said the dogs were being transported by the father of the owner, who turned the dogs over to his father because the owner was in the process of being arrested at the nearby Taneycomo Motor Inn.
Flora said criminal charges are being sought against the father, who was driving the vehicle, and the owner of the dogs.
He said city and state ordinances both make the owner of the dogs liable for damages a victim incurs.
Still said those damages, including emergency surgery, have already resulted in medical bills more than $28,000.
Flora said Still will be provided with contact information of the driver of the vehicle if he wishes to pursue legal action.
City Attorney Barney Naioti said the city has done everything it can.
“Recovering any form of damages is something that will have to be pursued through private channels,” Naioti said.
Kettelkamp had harsh words for those of pit bull breeds for the board.
“Through breeding, we’ve created this sort of bi-polar monster,” she said of pit bulls.
Alderman Jerry Simms said he isn’t sure the city should single out a specific breed, however.
“It’s up to the owner to restrain that animal and know that animal’s tendencies,” Simms said.
Aldermen voted to table the discussion until the July meeting.