Washburn University’s annual Homecoming Parade Oct. 21 was met by crowds of Topeka citizens as they gathered to watch student organizations and their nautically themed floats make their way around the campus.
Before the parade officially commenced, though, a message was made clear to any student participants with dogs: They would need to muzzle their pets if they wished to participate.
To their credit, Washburn provided organizations prior to the event with rules clearly specifying that if individuals wanted their dogs to participate, they would need to be muzzled. When asked, several volunteers at the parade and WUPD officers confirmed that Topeka Police cited a city ordinance stating that dogs must be muzzled at parades.
Upon further research, however, there seems to be no record of a Topeka city ordinance that specifies dogs need to be muzzled to participate in any public event. The only ordinance resembling this is that dogs labeled as “vicious” must be muzzled at all times when in a public area. Even still, coordinators of the parade asked multiple owners of small dogs that have not been reported as “vicious” to muzzle them.
This rule, whether a legitimate city ordinance or not, is likely a response to an incident that occurred during Topeka’s 2014 St. Patrick’s Day Parade. During the parade, a German shepherd attacked and crushed the head of a three pound chihuahua. While the owner of the German shepherd was convicted, it doesn’t appear as though any laws were put into place to specify the muzzling of all dogs. Even if this ordinance exists, it would feel like an overreaction to an isolated incident.
What is puzzling, too, is the strange specifications of the cited ordinance – that only dogs participating in parades need to be muzzled. Nothing is to be said for muzzling dogs in the crowds spectating parades. Further still, the ordinance only cites parades, not other public events. A dog injuring a human or another dog could occur at any public event.
Numerous students, including one of the Review’s own employees, cited to officials at Washburn’s parade that their dogs are therapy animals. Despite this, they were still asked to remove their dogs from the parade line-up due to their animals’ lack of an identifying vest.
If this ordinance does exist, we were unable to find it in our research. In short, though, this requirement to muzzle all dogs in parades seems unneccesary. Whether as an unspoken rule enforced by Topeka Police or as an actual law, its existence not only profiles and blindly accuses all dogs of being potentially violent, but does not hae much reach if it only applies to parade settings.
We feell that there could be more transparency with city ordinances that are being enforced at campus events.