Waterloo, IA: Potential for pit bull ordinance after council work session

As the result of a recent dog attack, officials in Waterloo, Iowa began reaching out for policies, regulations and ordinances that restrict or ban the ownership of “pit bull breeds.”   A work session with the mayor and city council was held on September 3, 2013 to discuss the issue.

The city has recently taken over its own animal control duties.  Sandie Greco, the director of animal control, addressed the council members at the work session.  She told the officials that the city has a “pit bull problem,” but also advised that breed specific legislation does not work.  Moreover, despite her declaration of an alleged pit bull problem in the city, she went on to say the main problem is actually reckless dog owners.

To that end, Greco suggested more stringent enforcement of current ordinances. For example, instead of warnings on first offenses, owners with dogs at large or found without proper licenses would get citations right away. People who redeem dogs from animal control and fail to get a mandatory microchip implant for their pet would get a $500 fine. Pet owners with two violations would be banned altogether from owning dogs in the city.

However, Mayor Buck Clark, who called for the workshop, prefers rules putting more responsibility on pit bill owners.  Those rules would include mandatory spaying or neutering, microchipping, proof of insurance by owners, and limits on the number of pit bulls one household can have.  Mayor Clark says by doing so, the city would be targeting the owner, and not the dog.  Obviously, what he described is an ordinance that specifically targets only those owners of certain breeds of dogs, and despite his position, this type of ordinance is discriminatory, subjective and does, in fact, target dog breeds.

Councilman Steve Schmitt acknowledged the city already has a “potentially dangerous dog” ordinance that he surmised was not being enforced.  He suggested creating a committee that would include veterinarians, dog handlers, insurance agents, lawyers, etc., to discuss what steps should be taken to deal with the pit bull issue.

No decisions were made at the work session, but Mayor Clark advised he is hopeful council members can reach an agreement on how to proceed within the next 30 days.

Please reach out to the Waterloo city officials with your polite, respectful and informative opposition to breed specific legislation.  Encourage them to follow the suggestions of the animal control director, Ms. Greco, and crack down on irresponsible and reckless dog owners.  Let them know that community safety is extremely important to us all, and encourage them to move forward with a breed neutral ordinance that will be effective in keeping the community safe for all its members – people and animals alike.  It is also important to include viable suggestions and alternate breed-neutral ordinances for their consideration. We suggest using the NAIA’s Guide to Constructing Successful Pet Friendly Ordinances.

You can find talking points for your letters here.

City of Waterlool
715 Mulberry Street
Waterloo, IA 50703
Phone: (319) 291-4323
Fax: (319) 291-4571

City Clerk: suzy.schares@waterloo-ia.org

Mayor Buck Clark
mayor@waterloo-ia.org

Block copy & paste e-mail for the city council:
CouncilmanHart@mediacombb.net,david.jones.ward1@gmail.com,Carolyn.cole@vgm.com,
harcarge@aol.com,rjgrx@aol.com,sschmitt@schmitthouse.com,

Please note that Councilman Ron Welper does not make his e-mail available.  Information can be furnished to him (as well as all the city officials) via the city clerk.

City council meeting agendas and minutes: http://www.cityofwaterlooiowa.com/citycouncil 

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