PALMYRA, Mo. -- Palmyra Mayor Loren Graham is urging city aldermen to speak up in support of the city's 4-year-old ordinance banning pit bulls.
During Thursday night's City Council meeting, Graham said the Missouri House of Representatives recently passed a bill abolishing all city ordinances that ban specific breeds of dogs. The bill is scheduled to go before the Missouri Senate within the next two weeks.
"If this bill passes, then our ordinance is null and void," he said.
Graham doesn't want the ordinance to fall by the wayside. He urged Palmyra's aldermen to contact state Sen. Brian Munzlinger, R-Williamstown, to lobby against the bill.
Graham said he intends to call Munzlinger on Friday to express his views.
"I don't think the state needs to be telling the city how to keep its citizens safe," he said. "I'm telling him when I call him tomorrow that if there's an attack and a child gets hurt, those legislators who voted for this bill will have blood on their hands."
In an interview, Graham said Palmyra passed its ban on pit bulls in response to several dog attacks on residents. The ordinance allowed existing pit bulls to remain in Palmyra if they were registered with the Police Department, but no more pit bulls could be brought into the city.
Graham thinks the ordinance makes sense.
"From everything I've heard and read, pit bulls have a tendency to snap at a moment's notice and attack someone," he said.
During the meeting, Graham said one of the justifications for passing the proposed state law "is that you're discriminating against a certain dog breed."
But he doesn't buy that.
"I've never had a dog come up to me and tell me that they've been discriminated against," he said. "I don't know if a dog has the same rights as people do. We passed our ordinance for a reason -- because we had some problems in the past."
Several aldermen said a Palmyra child was bitten just last week by a dog and hospitalized in St. Louis. Police Chief Eddie Bogue said the owner claimed the dog was a Lab-boxer mix.
"But to me, it kind of looks like a dog breed known as Dogo Argentino, which is a fairly new breed that they've bred to hunt wild boar hogs," Bogue said. "It's very hard to tell what kind of breed a dog actually is -- unless they have papers."
Bogue said he wants to meet "as soon as possible" with the council's Ordinance Committee to talk about "getting some more teeth" in the city's dangerous animal ordinance.
"Our ordinance is very thin" on what can happen to a dog that bites someone, the police chief said. He said if a dog owner follows certain guidelines, he or she might have only a fine to pay.
"That's it," he said. "This can keep going on, and we would keep writing tickets and writing tickets."
Bogue thinks the ordinance should allow dangerous animals to be euthanized under certain circumstances.
Also Thursday, the council gave a first reading to an ordinance that would empower the city to issue administrative search warrants in certain situations.
Under the proposal, the warrants could be issued only when city officials can prove to a municipal judge there is convincing evidence that the city's housing, zoning, health or safety regulations are being violated and the owner refuses to allow access to the property for an inspection.