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In Missouri, Pit Bulls Are Banned in 86 Municipalities. Dog Lovers Are Fighting Back



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Florissant threatened to euthanize Mandi Kay Sullivan's dog Dexter. - COURTESY OF MANDI KAY SULLIVAN
  • Florissant threatened to euthanize Mandi Kay Sullivan's dog Dexter.

Mandy Kay Sullivan, whose pit bull currently lives with her grandmother, won't make the same mistake twice.

She's planning on moving out of Florissant soon, and this time, she says she will do the research and make sure wherever she lives doesn't have breed-specific legislation.

"I will not move somewhere where I can't have my dog," Sullivan says.

But Sullivan and activists like her still have hope that ordinances like Florissant's may someday seem as antiquated as laws against swearing, or interracial marriage.

Stop BSL Missouri is still looking for a member of the state legislature that would be willing to sponsor a new version of HB 1811. Then they'll gear up for another round of legal arguments, personal testimony and lobbying. Ron Hicks, the former state rep from O'Fallon, says he believes the bill could easily pass the House again.

"We just need to get it to a vote in the Senate," Mandy Ryan says.

The fight in Florissant is continuing, too.

In 2017, a mailer will go out to the city's residents asking again for their opinion on the pit bull ban. Ryan hopes that it will be followed by a public vote to repeal the ban.

"It costs like $10,000 to put it on the ballot, so we were like, 'OK, you're the city,'" she says. "'You can put it on the ballot.'"

While she knows some members of the city council don't want a public vote on the issue, she hopes the public opposition will eventually become impossible to ignore.

Brent Toellner also believes things are getting better for pro-pit bull activists.

In recent years, he says, DNA testing of dogs and behavioral science have advanced to the point where breed bans will become more and more difficult to enforce. Cities are now more likely to repeal a breed ban than to pass a new one.

"There were a lot more people going through a similar situation in 2005 than there are now," he says.

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