A western Iowa city council takes another look at its dog ordinance this month. Since the beginning of the year, at least 19 people have been attacked by pit bull terriers, the most recent late last month when a dog that put its owner in the hospital was shot when it went after police responding to the attack. Assistant Council Bluffs City Attorney Don Bauermeister says the animal left the yard and posed a danger to others. In addition to the attack on its owner, once the animal took off he says they had to consider an animal, bloodied from its attack, running at large at night — the only thing worse would have been if it was in daytime when kids were walking to school. There’s a move to get all pit bull terriers licensed in Council Bluffs but the city attorney says it hasn’t been effective. The city clerk’s office and animal-shelter tell him only about 160 pit bulls are licensed right now in the city but they think that’s only a minority of all the dogs of that kind, and he adds the most recent attack was by an unlicensed pit bull. A new city ordinance making all owners license their dogs was narrowly defeated on its first try, but Bauermeister says a councilman who missed that meeting will attend the next one and has said he’ll vote for the strict rules. No new pit bulls will be allowed in the city under the strict ordinance being proposed. You’ll have to show the city you have a “secured enclosure” more than just a fenced yard to keep them in, the animals must wear a muzzle when in public and be on a leash less than four feet long, and you can’t own one unless you’re over 18 years old. Any pit bull living in the city must be spayed or neutered, covered by the owner’s liability insurance, and have an identity microchip implanted…all things they’ve found other cities doing, in researching places that do regulate pit bulls. Bauermeister says city officials have done a lot of research into how they can regulate dangerous animals, and how other communities have done it. Bauermeister says “active resistance” is probably an understatement, as people have opposed an ordinance that would regulate one specific breed of dog. Still, the number of attacks by that breed is clearly a high one, and he says many people think the strict ordinance will pass next time around, and are rushing to license pit bulls so they can keep them.
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