Missouri Valley, IA to consider amending pit bull ordinance

After his dog was seized by police last month because the ownership of “pit bulls” is prohibited within the Missouri Valley, Iowa city limits, Bryan Athay obtained signatures of registered voters on a petition seeking to amend the ordinance.  Mr. Athey presented the petition to the city council, and city officials have decided to explore changes that could allow pit bulls to reside in city limits with certain restrictions.

The current ordinance declares pit bull terriers as “dangerous animals” and provides that “no person shall keep, shelter or harbor any dangerous animal as a pet, or act as a temporary custodian for such animal, or keep, shelter or harbor such animal for any purpose or in any capacity within the City.”

Section 57.01 of the city code defines a “pit bull terrier” as follows:

(1) The Bull Terrier breed of dog;
(2) The Staffordshire Bull Terrier breed;
(3) The American Staffordshire Terrier breed;
(4) The American Pit Bull Terrier breed;
(5) Dogs of mixed breed or other breeds which are known as pit bulls, pit bulldogs or pit bull terriers;
(6) Any dog which has the appearance and characteristics of being predominantly of the breeds of Bull Terrier, Staffordshire Bull Terrier, American Pit Bull Terrier, American Staffordshire Terrier, any other breed commonly known as pit bulls, pit bull dogs or pit bull terriers or a combination of any of these breeds.

The city clerk advised the council would likely model a proposed new ordinance after other cities that have restricted pit bull ownership laws.  Restrictions would possibly include muzzling and confinement requirements, as well as liability insurance for dog owners.

The discussion on the matter will continue at the city council meeting on July 1, 2014 at 6:00 p.m. Meetings are held at the Rand Center, 100 S 4th St.

Please reach out to the Missouri Valley city officials, via the city administrator, Rita Miller at rmiller@ci.missouri-valley.ia.us, and politely and respectfully encourage them to amend the city’s ordinance. While officials aren’t looking at a full repeal, their consideration to amend the ordinance is certainly a step in the right direction, and educational materials on the problems associated with breed specific laws may go a long way in any (potential) future discussions to fully repeal the ordinance regulating the ownership of pit bull-type dogs.

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