Officials in the City of Memphis are considering a new proposal that puts a $50 bounty on dogs roaming the Memphis streets. In order to take care of the problem, they feel this may be more cost effective than hiring additional Animal Control officers. This idea is dangerous on so many levels.
To place animal control in the hands of citizens is such a short-term â€œfixâ€ that puts both humans and dogs in danger. Citizens are not usually trained to handle problem dogs. Getting dangerous dogs off the street is a great idea, but more people are likely to be bit by trying to make the streets safe than they would if they left them for our few Animal Control officers to pick them up. It is also not uncommon for fighting dogs to be dumped on Memphis city streets.
There are also members of the population that might take collars off legitimate pets and turn these pets in for the money, or even turn in their own pets saying they are strays. A bounty on dogs is just not a viable option, and Iâ€™m actually surprised to hear the City Council make such a suggestion.
While I do see a need for animal control, the problem lies in poor laws concerning spay/neuter requirements. There are many studies done about Mandatory Spay Neuter laws (or MSN laws). The ASPCA recognizes that sterilization is currently the best method to reduce companion animal overpopulation, and therefore reduces shelter intake and euthanasia. However, the most important step a community can take to decrease dog and cat overpopulation is to make a safe, effective, voluntary spay/neuter program available. Programs need to be in place with incentives that target populations known to be contributing to shelter intake and euthanasia, mainly low income areas where cost and transportation are an issue for pet owners.
The city claims it would cost an additional $500,000 per year to hire the necessary Animal Control officers needed to keep vicious dogs off the streets of Memphis. That doesnâ€™t seem too high a price to pay to protect citizens, and our dogs, in this city.