JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — Early last month, Rep. Ron Hicks R, St. Charles, introduced House Bill 1116 which would amend Missouri state statute as it relates to dogs. Dubbed “Winston’s Law” by Hicks, after his brother’s pit bull, the bill would effectively end any different or restrictive treatment of dogs statewide.
The bill states that it would add a new section to chapter 273 of state statute, the new section, RsMo. 273.195, states “Nothing in this chapter shall be construed to limit in any manner the authority of any village, town, or city to prohibit dogs from running at large or to further control or regulate dogs within its boundaries; provided that, no such ordinances, orders, policies, or regulations are specific to breed.” Hick’s concern is that some local municipalities are placing dog regulations that apply to specific breeds instead of the entire canine population.
The issue was stirred up when Hick’s brother went to the park with the pit bull he had rescued. Hick’s brother and the pit bull were addressed by park officials, who said the dog had to be muzzled while at the park. The officials indicated it was because the dog was a pit bull, not because the animal had attacked or bitten anyone. Hick’s mentioned that the dog is generally friendly and not a biter.
“If you’re worried about a dog bite, then let’s worry about all of them,” Hick’s said.
Hick’s told The Missouri Times that his bill has gained more and more supporters every day, including police officials and even from people who are non residents of the state of Missouri. Among one of these supporters is St. Louis Blues Captain David Backes, who sent a letter to Hicks in support
“We want our communities to be protected against any dangerous dog and we want abused dogs to be protected against reckless owners,” Backes wrote. “Behavior, not breed, should be the focus of these public safety laws.”
Hicks also states that this is a property rights issue, as some towns prohibit the ownership of certain breeds of dog altogether.
“One of my best friends has a pit bull, and he just so happens to live in a city where he can’t own it,” Hicks said.
Property rights laws like the ones that put restrictions on different dog breeds such as pit bulls and german shepards have already been turned over in 17 other states, Hicks said.
“If your dog bites let’s hold the owner responsible,” Hicks said.
A hearing on HB 1116 will be held on Feb. 11.