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IA: Sioux City update: Proposals to be submitted to city attorney (still BSL)

Discussion in 'Breed Specific Legislation' started by StopBSL.com, Mar 23, 2010.

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    Council mulls possible changes to animal laws

    By Lynn Zerschling lzerschling@siouxcityjournal.com
    Posted: Tuesday, March 23, 2010 12:00 am

    SIOUX CITY — After another discussion on whether to redefine the city’s vicious dog law and lift the ban on pit bulls, Mayor Mike Hobart asked his City Council colleagues Monday to submit the ideas they favor to the city attorney.

    “I don’t want to discuss something that doesn’t have a chance of passing,†Hobart said during a council study session that lasted an hour and 45 minutes.

    The five councilmen will individually tell City Attorney Andrew Mai which proposals they favor among those that have been offered by Hobart and Councilman Aaron Rochester. Mai said he will draft amendments for council consideration at a future meeting. The council does not meet next Monday.

    From the discussion, it appeared Councilman John Fitch and Hobart favor eliminating the ban on pit bulls and pit bull mixes enacted by the council in 2008. Rochester and Councilman Keith Radig said they would keep the prohibition. Councilman Tom Padgett said generally he didn’t favor breed bans but did not indicate how he would vote on this ban. He said after the meeting he is willing to consider lifting the ban with conditions recommended by Hobart.

    Hobart has proposed that, if the council lifts the ban, all pit bulls be categorized as high risk, with additional restrictions such as microchipping and muzzling the dogs when off the owner’s property.

    Among other possible changes, Rochester proposed that animals declared vicious could be relocated outside the city or euthanized. Under the current city ordinance, dogs declared vicious must be euthanized.

    “My concern is, if you truly had a vicious animal, why would you relocate it?†Fitch asked. “I’ve been bitten more than once, and I wouldn’t say any of them were vicious dogs.â€

    Former Councilman Jim Rixner, who voted to impose the pit bull ban, said the council’s top priority is protecting the public. He pointed out that other jurisdictions will not accept dogs that have been declared vicious. He questioned what the city’s liability would be if that dog bit someone elsewhere.

    Brenda Iwen, chairman of the city’s Animal Control Advisory Committee, and Terry Mann, who volunteers at the Sioux City Animal Control shelter, said lifting the pit bull ban would be more effective if the city required those dogs to be spayed and neutered. Then, they could not reproduce.

    Rochester has also proposed the city switch to a complaint-driven system in which the victim would have the option of filing a complaint with the police or Animal Control. Currently, authorities investigate every report of an animal bite.

    Padgett and Hobart said under a complaint-driven system, the victim might be intimidated into not filing a complaint. But Rochester said Animal Control officers would have the option of pursuing a high risk designation in cases in which the victim did not pursue a case.

    Rochester’s yellow Labrador retriever, Jake, was declared vicious in June even though the neighbor whom Jake had bitten asked authorities not to euthanize Jake. Jake was awaiting euthanization when someone stole him from Animal Control. He has not been found.

    Rochester is also proposing that instead of having a police officer as the hearing officer in vicious-animal cases, the city appoint a three-person panel.

    Radig said, “That would make people feel they had their day in court.â€

    But Police Chief Doug Young said the police department has the experience to conduct investigatory matters.

    “These people would have to be scrutinized very carefully, and the panel would have to be consistent in its rulings or it would lose credibility,†he said of Rochester’s idea.


    At a glance

    As the City Council weighs whether to make changes to the city’s vicious-animal law and pit-bull ban, council members will tell City Attorney Andrew Mai individually which proposals they favor among those that have been offered by Mayor Mike Hobart and Councilman Aaron Rochester. Mai will draft amendments for council consideration at a future meeting.

    Proposals include lifting the pit-bull ban and implementing a complaint-driven system of investigating animal bites.

    Council mulls possible changes to animal laws

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