Earlier this year a teenager in Annapolis Missouri found out about the effects of breed discriminatory laws the hard way. 15 year old Bayle Sutton found a dog when he followed her home one day. Her Aunt and Uncle took the dog in and gave him a home and a name, Patches. Unfortunately, Patches was a dog that fell under the ban in Annapolis. The family was cited and given 5 days to get Patches out of town.
In an amazing display, a local news station paid for a DNA test on Patches in an attempt to try to get him to stay with his family. Though the test did not come back in time for the scheduled hearing, the results came in as American Staffordshire Terrier, Boxer and Cocker Spaniel. The results of the DNA test worked against the family in this case, as American Staffordshire Terriers were included in the ordinance. It bears noting that DNA results are by no means reliable, and are often not admissible in court, however, DNA on pure breed dogs and first generation crosses far exceeds the reliability of visual identification.
The same station and reporter have broadcast a great series of reports on breed discrimination. Some of the reports can be found here.
The family took a proactive approach and reached out to the City Attorney and the Mayor. Annapolis Aldermen agreed to speak to the community and review the ordinance. Though others had faced a similar situation with no results, in this case the Aldermen listened and subsequently voted to repeal the ban.
There is something to be said for the role of the media in this case as well as others. In an article reporting the repeal, Tammy Tucker, Bayle’s Aunt, said, “The mayor requested that the Alderman talk to the people and once they did — and everybody fell in love with Patches of course once they saw the news reel. And if it hadn’t have been for that, we probably wouldn’t have gotten as far as we did.”
The positive portrayal of both the family and the dog had an impact on officials and the community. The same can be said of the reverse, where a type of dog is portrayed negatively. We can see this beginning to play out in the negative portrayal of the Tibetan Mastiff in recent Chinese new reports and owners of targeted dogs around the world are familiar with the sort impact media portrayal can have.
Congratulations to the Tucker family, Patches and, of course, the community of Annapolis. With the breed discriminatory ordinance repealed, the door is open for a more effective common sense approach to come in for the betterment of the community.