BSL ALERT: Hannibal, Missouri

The mayor of Hannibal, MO has asked the police chief to review the ordinances of other communities with breed specific ordinances. Please send your POLITE, RESPECTFUL and INFORMATIVE letters of opposition to the Hannibal city officials listed below.

Contact Forms for city council members:

City Clerk
Angelica Zerbonia
(573) 221-0111 ext 221

Mayor – Roy Hark
(573) 221-0111 ext 202

City Manager – Jeff LaGarce
(573) 221-0111 ext 202

Hannibal police chief, letter carrier to examine dog laws

HANNIBAL, Mo. — Hannibal will consider changes to its dangerous dog laws, including a possible ban on pit bulls and other vicious breeds, in response to a longtime postal worker’s complaints about dog attacks and the police chief’s admission that current dog laws are reactive rather than proactive.

Mayor Roy Hark asked Police Chief Lyndell Davis and letter carrier Susan Schubert to work together to discuss revamping the city’s dangerous dog ordinance after Schubert complained to the council at its regular meeting Tuesday about vicious dogs on her route and elsewhere in the city.

“The pit bull problem in this town is out of control,” Schubert said before calling for a ban on pit bulls and other vicious dogs. “It’s time the laws that are on the books are enforced and pushed a little further.”

Schubert, a letter carrier in central Hannibal for more than 20 years, grew heated and emotional at times as she cited tales of dog attacks on her fellow letter carriers. She offered photographs, police reports and other documentation to the council, and asked repeatedly if several people who had accompanied her to the meeting could speak about dog attacks they had witnessed or experienced.

In response to Schubert’s remarks, Davis noted that dangerous dog and animal-at-large citations in Hannibal are down over the past three years. But he acknowledged that 50 to 70 percent of dog bite cases have involved pit bulls.

Pit bulls do not constitute a dog breed in themselves, but rather a group of breeds including the American pit bull terrier, the American Staffordshire terrier and the Staffordshire bull terrier. The dogs are typically distinguished by their size and strong jaws.

Davis said Hannibal’s current dangerous dog laws begin at the point of reacting to an attack, not preventing one. Citations are issued only after a dog lunges at or attacks a person.

“It’s not that the laws aren’t working. They’re working as designed,” Davis said. “The problem is, you have to have a victim before (police) can do anything.”

The city has no laws on population control among private owners or breeding regulations for private breeders.

Davis said police are reviewing other Missouri cities’ dangerous dog ordinances. If Hannibal bans pit bulls, it would join Palmyra, New London and Center. In addition, Monroe City has extensive restrictions on pit bulls, Doberman pinschers and Rottweilers.

The council’s lone dissenting voice on the idea of a pit bull ban was Sixth Ward Alderman Jeff Lyng, who owns an American Staffordshire terrier.

“Staffordshire terriers are very good dogs,” Lyng said, adding that any mistreatment of the dogs is the owner’s fault, not the dog’s.

Lyng also disagreed with any stipulation that would allow current pit bull owners to be grandfathered in while banning new pit bulls.

“When I lose the one I have, I’d like to replace him,” Lyng said.

Davis acknowledged that a pit bull ban would be a proactive law that would prevent attacks. But rather than proposing anything Tuesday, he requested time to deliberately review the city’s ordinances and request input from the council.

Hark agreed and assigned Davis and Schubert to the task.

In the meantime, Schubert is prepared to deal with the potentially vicious dogs on her route. Shunning the pepper spray the U.S. Postal Service issues to all letter carriers, she has learned to use her mail bag as a defensive weapon — and she doles out treats to all of the dogs on her route.

“I give ’em to the bad ones, too,” Schubert said.


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