Donnellson, IA: Council to discuss dog ordinance tonight, Jan 9 (possible breed ban)

Donnellson, IA city council plans to discuss a dog ordinance (breed ban) proposal tonight, Jan 9 at 6 PM (confirmed on agenda by city clerk)

Donnellson city ordinance currently labels “pit bulls” and Rottweilers to be “vicious” (and places special restrictions on ownership). Last month, Donnellson officials started considering animal ordinance revisions. They suggested stepping up from restrictions to a breed ban.

At the last council meeting, Donnellson officials did not have the ordinance revisions formalized. Discussion continued, and the mayor suggested that they use Mount Pleasant’s animal ordinance as a model. Mount Pleasant bans the ownership of “pit bulls.”

Contact city officials
City Hall, P.O. Box 50, 500 N. Oak St. (located behind the Bank & across from Dahms Chevrolet), Donnellson, IA 52625
Phone: 319-835-5714
Fax: 319-835-9224
Bill Young, Mayor,
Councilmembers contact page:
City Attorney Greg Johnson, P.O. Box 405, Fort Madison, IA 52627
Phone: 319-372-2532

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One response to “Donnellson, IA: Council to discuss dog ordinance tonight, Jan 9 (possible breed ban)

  1. Crystal Ann Camps

    This letter is in response to the legislation in your jurisdiction as to regulating vicious/potentially dangerous dogs via Breed Specific Legislation, hence force in this letter abbreviated by the initials BSL.
    All dogs can be dangerous under certain circumstances. When the owner or custodian of the animal in question does not properly train and/or confine their animal, does that animal pose as a potential risk to public safety. A common ingredient to any dog’s personality is to guard and protect its owner and its property. ANY dog, regardless of breed or origin with that personality can become a problem for the public if that dog is not responsibly supervised. The key word here is “responsibility.”
    To say that certain breeds of dogs are dangerous is not a complete statement. All dogs can pose as a potential danger if in the hands of an irresponsible owner. It is the owner’s responsibility to properly train, raise, socialize, and handle their dog, yet BSL has allowed the dog to take the blame for the unfortunate situations that they have fallen into, due to an irresponsible and/or uneducated dog owner.
    So, we the people of the State of Iowa ask that you retract your Breed Specific Legislation Ordinance. Do not punish all of the responsible dog owners who maintain our dogs as companion and members of our families. We can, and do, maintain our dogs so that they do not pose as a threat to anyone: why should we be denied our companions simply because of irresponsible owners of the same breed of dog who have not “ethically and legally” protected others from injury?
    There are several samples of existing non-breed specific legislations (i.e., the State of Illinois) that are competent to regulate the irresponsible owners and not to punish those that maintain their dogs safely and humanely. I, as a responsible dog owner, ask that you seriously consider the impact of Breed Specific Legislation from both sides, not just from one as is being done currently.
    The irresponsible dog owners do not care what breed of dog they lose the right to own: they will find another breed of dog to fit their needs. I deeply care, because it threatens me with the loss of a family member and companion.
    I, along with all others who agree with me against BSL, understand your concern and desire to protect your constituents from the awful tragedy that a dangerous dog can cause. You, I am certain, intend to do so by allowing Breed Specific Legislation. However, this law causes much more harm than good, and turns thousands of pet loving voters against you personally, and you will be viewed as those terrible people who will cruelly deprive animal lovers of their well-behaved pets.
    I know that this is not your intention, however the BSL law has too many flaws in the system, and while every system has flaws and no law is perfectly capable of satisfying everyone, it is an unfair, inhumane, unjust, and unconstitutional law that you are upholding. Already, the State of Alabama Supreme Court, as well as the Supreme Court of Westbury, NY has proven breed specific ordinances to be unconstitutional, and there are at least three (3) other state cases pending.
    First of all, there is a great lack in representation of the true facts. The American Temperament Testing Society tests the overall temperaments of all dog breeds throughout the year at breed club organizations, and compiles the statistics. In the year of 2008, statistics show that the American Staffordshire Bull Terrier and the Staffordshire Terrier (both breeds routinely referred to by the general (however incorrect) term of “pit bull”) ranked in the 82 percentile, and took 2nd place as one of the best temperaments of all dogs, beaten out of first place only by the Golden Retriever.
    Second off, the lack of information used to back up the BSL law in the State of Iowa is poorly represented, and does not have enough or adequately certified dog behaviorists to verify that the dog breeds in question deserve to be targeted based upon their breed, origin, characteristics, and/or appearances. The AKC, ASPCA, UKC, SPCA, AVMA, HSUS, and several other animal societies have already written position statements against BSL laws.
    A dog should never be labeled vicious or dangerous only because of its breed or characteristics. Doing this falls into the category of racism and genocide. It is discriminatory, not only against the dog, but also against the family and people whom that dog resides with, for they are also labeled the same as their dog, and are treated differently and unjustly by the community, as well as local law enforcement.
    The problem is that BSL is not targeting the correct problem. Rather than targeting the irresponsible dog owners, who allow their animal to become a potential threat to society, it targets the people who are responsible dog owners.
    For example, someone who takes their dog out into the public to walk it, to train it, to transport it, etc., is more likely to be noticed and therefore included in the targeting of their dog based by its breed, versus going after the people who keep their dog “underground.”
    By a responsible owner taking their dog for a walk, training it, and providing it with the proper socialization, medical, and training requirements that all dogs need and deserve, they are helping to keep their dog a safe and therefore welcomed member of society. However, a person who keeps their dog in the backyard, strictly confined and isolated is allowing their dog to become an unsocialized and unmanageable dog, making it a potential threat and potentially dangerous dog.

    This applies to all dogs, not just dogs affected by BSL. An example of this: someone takes their American Staffordshire Bull Terrier for a walk, to training classes, to the vet, etc., on a regular basis, that dog is going to respond better to its training and to its handler, and is going to be a safe, well mannered, and welcomed part of society, who is safe and even admired in the public. However, someone who keeps their Chihuahua home all of the time, isolated, and unsocialized is setting their dog up to become a potential menace and/or threat to someone when it does, either deliberately or accidentally, become exposed to a social and/or public place. Because of improper ownership and a failure of ownership responsibility, the dog is going to be a potential threat to anyone whom it comes into contact with, as it can have stress, fear-aggression, displacement-aggression, and/or possibly even outright-aggression, which makes this dog, regardless of size, breed, or characteristics, a potential threat and dangerous dog.
    There is also a problem with BSL and the local law enforcement. While there are officers and city employees who do treat dogs fairly as a whole, there are also those who do not.
    One problem with this is that many of those in law enforcement are not fully aware or knowledgeable to the requirements and/or ordinances included in BSL, and therefore do not give adequate information. They also treat the dogs, as well as those who own them, unfairly in both a public and legal standing. While officers do see their share of potentially dangerous dogs, they are more likely to shoot a friendly “pit bull” dog than to shoot an aggressive Golden Retriever, based entirely by the animal’s appearance, unfairly labeled reputation, and uneducated assumptions.
    Not only do they need to be made more aware of the laws if there are any that apply, but they also need to be more adequately educated in animal handling if they are expected to work with, in proximity to, or handle animal cases and/or situations. If this is not possible, than a certified animal behaviorist needs to be either on call for assistance, or needs to be present to make the determination when assessing an animal’s behavior and/or temperament.
    An animal’s behavior and temperament is something that it learns through, and by, the environment and surrounding in which it is raised and housed in. Therefore, unless you are giving animals human rights as to being able to make the decision to be and/or act dangerous or violent, you need to have the person and/or people legally responsible for the dog answerable to its actions if a situation arises. An animal’s actions should determine if it is dangerous or potentially dangerous, not the animal’s appearance, breed, or origin.
    Furthermore, there is NO SUCH BREED OF DOG CALLED A “PIT BULL”. The name “pit bull” is a generic term that is overly used and under defined. This name can apply to, and include over 25 breeds of dogs, and does not comply with the origins of the term’s meaning.

    “Pit bull” was a slang or generic name given to dogs that were used in the cruel and illegal sport of dog fighting. As these dogs often fought in specially made arenas or rooms, usually called “pits”, those dogs that were involved in and used in fighting were nicknamed “pit bull.”
    The AKC (American Kennel Club) does NOT recognize any breed called “pit bull”, and agrees with many other certified trainers and behaviorists that no responsible owner should call their dog a “pit bull.” In the eyes of a law, a “pit bull” should be a dog who is a proven dog fighter, and only these proven fighting dogs should be labeled as vicious/dangerous dogs, as they can prove vicious and/or dangerous if they are not properly rehabilitated by a professional.
    Also, any dog, regardless of breed, even those who live within a BSL affected area, that can pass a C.G.C (Canine Good Citizenship) should be made EXEMPT from the BSL ordinance and regulations, as this certification clearly states that those dogs who can pass a C.G.C are a safe and non-threatening canine to the public and to society as a whole. This is further proof and evidence to support the allegations that a dog and its owner(s) should be judged upon its own behaviors and actions, not upon those as a whole.
    BSL is a law that has failed in and as a whole. It fails to properly educate and to properly protect the citizens from potentially dangerous dogs, and also does not educate people on how to properly handle, own, train, or socialize with dogs. It also fails to correct the environment in which irresponsible dog owners keep and handle their dogs, which would prevent any and all dogs from becoming a potential threat or vicious dog, to start with.
    BSL is unconstitutional as it not only targets the dog breeds in question, but it also targets the family by, forcing them to adhere to ridiculous and unfair/unjust standards, based upon the characteristic, breed, nationality, personality, and/or appearances of the dog that they own, and this falls into the category of racism.
    Breed Specific Legislation is also costly to the city and to its taxpayers. It increases the cost to enforce BSL, and places an unnecessary and unfair financial and emotional burden upon the owner(s) and their family, as well as intruding upon their rights to own a certain type of dog based upon the mistakes which others may have made. It also causes local animal shelters and humane societies to become overburdened, stretching their resources as they become over filled with dog breeds affected by BSL, which also endangers those dogs’ chances for adoption.
    States with BSL have to pay for the disposal of BSL affected breeds they have to euthanize, for the gas and travel expenses it costs for law enforcement agencies to unnecessarily remove these animals, and costs a great deal to care for BSL affected breeds while pounds that are due to nothing more than the dog’s breed.

    BSL also places an unfair and unjustified financial and emotional burden upon the families who own those dogs affected by these unneeded ordinances. The cost of special licenses/permits, and special housing requirements are unfair and should only be required for those people who own a dog that has performed an act that renders it legally “vicious and dangerous.”
    Furthermore, nobody except for a trained and certified Animal Behaviorist should have the rights to condemn or label an animal of being “vicious and dangerous”, and these results should only be gathered after a proper investigation by both law enforcement and certified animal behaviorist(s), and after the animal involved is examined in a temperamental and/or behavioral test, which should be performed by, or in the company of a certified animal behaviorist.
    And finally, BSL CAN and IS affecting our communities and even our State as a whole. It can and does cause a loss of revenue to states, cities, and areas where BSL exists and/or is supported. I myself, as well as many others I know, do not do business with any company or within any city or area where BSL exists. This can, especially with BSL awareness and the laws being expelled from many states and cities in the US, lead to a lack of income and revenue, as well as a lack of people wishing to reside in BSL affected areas and communities. I myself and others that I know, have – and may still be, considering the option of moving out of state, strictly due to the BSL ordinances and the complications that it causes for me and my family – both human and canine.
    Thank you for your time and I truly hope that you can start to see that America’s Dog does not, and should not be America’s Enemy. The primary breeds that are considered “pit bulls” are one of America’s true breeds, and it is a true American icon. You would not ban the Statue of Liberty or the American Flag, and therefore you should not ban the Staffordshire Terrier nor the American Staffordshire Bull Terrier. It is unfair to punish those who have done nothing wrong: whether it be one of God’s creatures on two legs, or four.
    Crystal Ann Camps