Waterloo, Iowa says “NO!” to BSL

Pit bulls will not be singled out under more stringent animal control rules being drafted by city officials.

Last month, officials in Waterloo, Iowa began reaching out for policies, regulations and ordinances  that would restrict or ban the ownership of “pit bull breeds.”

At a work session held on September 3, 2013, Sandie Greco, the director of animal control, advised officials that the city has a “pit bull problem.” However, she went on to acknowledge that the real problem is irresponsible dog owners.  Ms. Greco also advised the council that breed specific legislation does not work, and she suggested more stringent enforcement and steeper fines for infractions of the current ordinances.

Despite this, Mayor Buck Clark, who called for the animal control work session, advised that he preferred to institute rules that would put 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.

Councilman Steve Schmitt asked about city’s “potentially dangerous dog” ordinance, which he surmised was not being enforced, and 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.

At a work session held on October 7, 2013, Ms. Greco updated city council members and a packed house of concerned residents about the status of a new ordinance being developed by the committee.  The new ordinance will be breed neutral with the goal of targeting the root of animal control problems …irresponsible dog owners.

After talking with officials in Omaha and Des Moines, both of which have breed-specific ordinances, the committee determined that a breed neutral ordinance targeting all vicious animals would be more effective and easier to enforce than a breed discriminatory law.

At this time, no proposal has been released, but Ms. Greco advised early proposals put more restrictions on all pet owners whose animals have been deemed potentially dangerous or vicious.  Owners of dogs deemed “potentially dangerous” already have to provide proof of liability insurance to cover their pet. But Ms. Greco suggested the ordinance would also require them to take their pet to obedience school. Higher fines would apply to vicious dogs, and their owners would lose the right to own dogs.  Numerous other ideas were floated targeting irresponsible owners.

A full hearing will be held by the city council when the proposal is ready for consideration.

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