Minneapolis may allow residents to adopt stray pit bulls

A (cute) American pit bull terrier.
A (cute) American pit bull terrier.

Last week, the Minneapolis City Council approved an ordinance allowing residents to maintain feral cat colonies. Now, council is considering something along the same lines for stray pit bulls and other so-called "bully breeds."

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The ordinance would allow licensed residents to adopt dogs directly from the city's Animal Care & Control department. Currently, the city works with a handful of rescue groups to place stray and owner-surrendered dogs with owners, but because the number of dogs the city deals with is more than the rescue groups can handle, about half of the "bully breed" dogs under Animal Control's care end up being euthanized.

According to MPR, Minneapolis euthanized 152 adoptable animals last year. That number is down 75 percent from five years ago, but council member Gary Schiff thinks the city can do even better.

"Deciding whether or not a dog is potentially dangerous by the breed is very ineffective and sometimes inaccurate," Schiff, a sponsor of the proposed ordinance, told MPR. "It's more effective for the city now to do individual behavioral assessments of an animal and to screen potential adopters to make sure that people are ready for the challenges that a bully breed may have."

A Star Tribune feature from May 2012 quoted Annie Piper, an animal control officer who covers north Minneapolis, as saying that some people in that part of town "have [pit bulls] because they're scared, other people as a status symbol."

"You see people doing their strut down the street in the parade of pit bulls -- 'Look at me, we have tough dogs so we're tough guys,'" she said.

According to the Strib report, early last year, volunteers began posting photos of euthanized dogs on Facebook. Twenty two of the first 24 were "bully breeds," a category that includes pit bulls, American Staffordshire terriers, and Staffordshire bull terriers, among others.

The "bully breed" ordinance comes before council's Public Safety Committee today. If it's approved there, it advances to the full City Council.

-- Follow Aaron Rupar on Twitter at @atrupar. Got a tip? Drop him a line at [email protected]

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