Editor’s note: As long as Sioux City keeps a portion of their animal control law breed-specific, they’re not actually keeping their city safer. As has been shown repeatedly, increased fines/penalties under a reasonable dangerous dog law act as a deterrence which actually keeps the community safer, assuming there is adequate Animal Control to enforce it. Breed-specific legislation (BSL), however, has proven to be a dismal failure worldwide. I should also add that while this article refers to Sioux City’s “pit bulls” being “grandfathered in,” they were not. True grandfathering would have allowed existing “pit bull” owners to keep their dogs without the new requirements being applied to them. What Sioux City passed was actually an ex post facto violation. But then BSL on its face is already unconstitutional. (Indeed, according to the Sioux City Journal, “a Woodbury County District Court judge in January overturned six vicious designations for due-process violations by the city.”) Also, declaring “pit bulls” (which isn’t even a breed but a slang term that can describe a number of breeds) as “high risk” dogs, as Mayor Hobart has suggested, and applying attending restrictions to them is still breed-specific legislation and still prejudicial. Worse, it’s prejudicial without having proven that “pit bulls” are any more dangerous than other “breeds.”
From the Sioux City Journal:
Relaxing mandatory impoundment, placing vicious dogs outside city limits and implementing a panel system for hearings are three changes that may be discussed when the City Council revisits the city’s vicious-animal ordinances at its June 28 regular meeting.
City Attorney Andrew Mai said city staffers will recommend a variety of changes, including on whether dogs must be impounded after they are accused of biting. The ordinance could be changed to read that a dog suspected of being vicious “may” be, rather than “shall” be, impounded.
“Where it’s inappropriate to have a dog put in Animal Control for a long period of time itll allow to free up that space for another dog and allow the owner to keep their animal,” Mai said.
It will be the newest round of discussion on a topic that has sparked contention for more than two years.
Council members first voted to change the city’s animal laws in March 2008, requiring animals that bite without provocation to be euthanized and no longer allowing them to be placed outside the city limits. Four months later, the council voted to ban pit bulls.
Both moves provoked a public outcry as pet owners appealed “vicious” designations to keep their dogs from being killed after the animals were accused of biting someone, and residents objected to the breed ban and stringent requirements placed on pit bulls that were grandfathered in.
…[Councilman Aaron] Rochester became ensnarled in the vicious-dog issue when Jake, his yellow Labrador retriever, was declared vicious after biting a neighbor in front of the councilman’s house in June 2009. Rochester appealed twice through the city’s hearing process but did not take the final step of filing a civil lawsuit in district court. Sioux City businessman Lew Weinberg, who bought Jake from Rochester for $1, intended to file suit but never got the chance because Jake was stolen from Sioux City Animal Control.
So far, Jake has not been found.
Mayor Pro Tem Tom Padgett said he hasn’t found fault with any of the decisions made by the hearing officers, but would be open to switching to a panel system.
Padgett also said he is leaning in favor of [Mayor Mike] Hobart’s proposal to relax the breed ban. Hobart has proposed the breed ban be repealed and pit bulls be considered “high risk” dogs, making them subject to restrictions…
Read this article in its entirety here.