County requests city help with ‘dog fight’
Most of Douglas County's problems with dog fighting are centered in Lawrence, but authorities said the problem hit close to home when a beaten dog was found near Eudora after having been thrown from a vehicle.
Executive Director Midge Grinstead of the Lawrence Humane Society said it wasn't uncommon to see dogs stolen and used to train pit bulls and other fighting dogs. In addition to abused training animals, Grinstead said the shelter also cared for the confiscated fighting dogs.
"While they become nice to us because they're used to us, they're not nice dogs," she said.
Grinnstead and Douglas County Commissioner Charles Jones made an appeal to the Eudora City Council to support a resolution that would crack down on vicious dogs in the county, and, supporters hope, in turn drive away the people running and supporting dog fighting. The Council is studying the information and will revisit the issue Monday at its meeting at 7:30 p.m. at Eudora City Hall, 4 E. Seventh St.
Jones said the county needed the Council's approval to enforce the law in Eudora. The resolution, approved by the Douglas County County Commission, would look to restrict dogs who are both vicious and who have the physical capacity to cause serious harm.
"We're not going to use this to go after the friendly pit bull or after the vicious miniature poodle," Jones said. "We're looking for that combination. It's difficult for somebody who's not highly trained to make that distinction in the field."
That's why the humane society had a set of criteria by which to judge an animal, Grinstead said. Only a district court judge, neither the humane society nor law enforcement officers, would be able to sanction euthanizing an animal.
Moreover, calling for a flat ban on particular breeds was too complicated, Jones said.
"If you take away pit bulls, they'll fight rottweilers," he said.
The goal of legislation throughout the county, Jones said, was to get rid of vicious dogs and then go after the people owning or possessing the fighting animals. That was hard, he said, because dog fighting circles often passed around ownership of the dogs.
Jones said authorities told him dog fighting usually accompanied other illegal activities, like unsanctioned gambling and drugs. Dogs were treated like a commodity because they meant money, he said.
That has mean Grinstead has trained the humane society staff to defend itself with clipboards when people come to claim their dogs carrying weapons or pushing people out of the way.
"They are very threatening, and it's intimidating," she said. "We're anxious to get this law underway."
The city of Eudora currently has pit bull and vicious animal ordinances, said Eudora Police Chief Greg Dahlem. Although there wasn't evidence of dogfighting in Eudora, Dahlem said officers sometimes encountered homes with intimidating dogs.
Although Jones said he doubted the resolution would have any impact on attitudes toward dog fighting, he hoped it would at least get the problem out of Douglas County.
"We're not going to change their hearts," he said. "The purpose is not to change the world, but to make their lives more difficult."