Dog fighting, animal cruelty cases on decline

Complaints about cruelty to animals and dog fighting have dropped significantly during the past year, and Lawrence Humane Society officials credit changes made to city ordinances.

“The anti-tethering law, I think, has been the best thing for Lawrence,” said Midge Grinstead, executive director of the Lawrence Humane Society’s animal shelter.

In 2005, there were a little more than 800 such complaints, Grinstead said, including about 50 about dog fighting. As of last week, there had been only about 260 similar complaints, with about 25 of them involving possible dog fighting, she said.

“I honestly can’t remember the last time we took in a pit bull that was scarred,” said Jeaneen Hercha, the Lawrence Humane Society’s cruelty investigator, referring to the dog breed often associated with dog fighting.

Two years ago, the city adopted an anti-tethering ordinance that prevents dog owners from keeping pets chained outside. Some dangerous dogs are able to break their chains or ropes, so the dogs must be kept inside or in pens.

“The dogs aren’t languishing outside, so our cruelties are down, and we don’t have the dangerous dogs chained up outside like we’d had before,” Grinstead said.

Both Lawrence and Douglas County have vicious dog laws, too. The laws define what a vicious dog is and set steps for impounding the dog – and, if a district court judge orders it, putting it to death. Grinstead and Hercha said they thought the laws also had an effect on dog cases.

Grinstead said she had talked with city representatives in Topeka and Charleston, W.Va., who have called inquiring about the local dog laws.