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Old 03-24-2010, 03:33 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Sioux City, IA update: Proposals to be submitted to city attorney (still BSL)

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

Posted: 23 Mar 2010 07:35 AM PDT

Council mulls possible changes to animal laws

Council mulls possible changes to animal laws
By Lynn Zerschling [email protected]
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.”

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.”

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.

BREAKOUT

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.
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Old 03-24-2010, 03:34 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Sioux City, IA: Proposal to repeal “pit bull” ban (would not eliminate BSL)

Posted: 21 Mar 2010 02:25 PM PDT

Under one possible scenario, Sioux City could repeal their “pit bull” ban, but “pit bulls” would instead be automatically considered “high risk” animals, subject to a host of special restrictions.

City council will consider the proposals on Monday, March 22, at 4:00 PM.
Council Chambers, 5th Floor of City Hall, 405 6th Street

You may send letters by e-mail to the full [email protected] or mail to City Hall, P.O. Box 447, Sioux City, IA 51102, or call 712-279-6102.

Council may change vicious animal laws

Hobart, Rochester proposals to be considered Monday
Council may change vicious animal laws

Lynn Zerschling – [email protected]
Posted: Saturday, March 20, 2010 1:00 am

SIOUX CITY — City lawmakers will discuss whether to can the pit bull ban and soften its vicious animal law during a discussion Monday afternoon.

Mayor Mike Hobart and Councilman Aaron Rochester, who both voted to beef up the vicious animal ordinance and to ban pit bulls in 2008, have offered amendments to the city ordinances.

Hobart’s proposal calls for repealing the pit bull ban and adding pit bulls to the city’s “high risk” animal category. He would increase the penalties for animals declared to be at high risk and hike the fees for high risk animals, City Attorney Andrew Mai said.

Rochester, whose pet lab was declared vicious last June, proposes to make investigation of vicious animals a complaint driven system, so appeals of that designation would go before a panel and not a single hearing officer.

He also proposes to let animals declared to be vicious to be placed outside Sioux City. The current ordinance now requires animals declared to be vicious to be euthanized.

“Guard dogs are already included” in the high risk category, Mai noted.

To be designated high risk, the animal would have to attempt to harm a person or another animal. Pit bulls automatically would be listed as high risk.

In order for authorities to investigate a potentially vicious animal, Mai said the victim would need to file a complaint with the city first.

“I’ll be seeking direction from the council on what they would like to see done,” Mai said.

Mayor Pro Tem Tom Padgett acknowledged that the three newly seated councilmen don’t want to revisit the whole pit bull/viscous animal laws.

Padgett quipped the council majority probably wanted to “let sleeping dogs lie.”

“I think most of us don’t want to spent an inordinate amount of time on this. I think we’re willing to tweak it,” Padgett said.

SIDEBAR

The proposals

Current law:

Defines a vicious animal to be one that, without provocation, attacks, bites or harms a person, whose bite causes bleeding or documented injury to a person or another animal. The hearing officer may take into account whether the animal was provoked or whether the animal was acting to protect itself, its owner or its owner’s property. Animals declared vicious must be euthanized.

Mayor Hobart’s Proposal:

Repeal the pit bull ban and add the breed of pit bull to the high risk animal category. In addition to current high risk animal requirements, he proposed to add these restrictions:

– Muzzle high risk animals; they must be leashed with a chest collar when not on the owner’s property.

– Post warning signs on all sides of the property and at least two feet from any entrance. The signs must state “Dangerous Dog” or something similar. Animal Control officers may inspect the signs.

– Microchip high risk animals, with data kept current.

– On the second offense that a high risk animal is seized by animal control, it may be reclaimed by its owner upon payment of impounding and boarding fees, and presenting proof that the animal will be removed from the city. An animal not reclaimed within seven days may be euthanized.

– On the third time a high risk animal is seized, it shall be euthanized and the owner will be liable for costs incurred.

– Hike the pet license fee to $50 for a high risk animal.

Councilman Rochester’s Proposal:

– Make the determination of vicious a complaint driven system. Unless a victim pressures charges or files a report, the animal will not be declared vicious.

– Animal Control could pursue high risk charges where vicious animal charges are not made.– Change the appeal process so a panel makes the determination. The panel could be made up of three persons with specialties in animal control or an alternate group of people.

– Allow animals found to be vicious to be relocated outside the city, as well as euthanized.
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