Locals urge Monticello to lift pit bull ban

Tanner was a pit bull pup housed at the AWF shelter in Monticello last year. Due to the City of Monticello’s pit bull ban, the shelter has trouble finding the right owners to adopt pit bulls. (Photos submitted)

Jo Provencher is the owner of a pit bull named Lucky. The family resides outside of city limits because their dog is banned from Monticello. Provencher’s daughter, Echo, is seen here with Lucky at home. She said the two are the best of friends.
Kim Brooks
Express Editor

     “There are more good dogs than bad, just like people. We cannot target one group (of dogs) because people place a label on them.”

     Those words were shared by Jo Provencher, a former resident of Monticello who now resides outside city limits because her family’s pit bull, Lucky, is banned from residing in the City of Monticello. Her family moved outside of the city eight years ago.

     “We had a fenced-in yard and couldn’t walk our dog around the neighborhood,” she said.

     Provencher, Sarah Iben, and Whitney Boysen recently spoke to the Express about why they feel the city’s pit bull ban should be abolished, and the misconceptions about the breed, which often times comes with negative stereotypes.

     To help move their efforts along, an online petition was created in mid-May at thepetitionsite.com (“Lift ban against pit bulls in Monticello, IA”). As of June 11, they secured 592 signatures (508 in Iowa alone), with a goal of 1,000.

     “People just keep sharing and sharing it,” said Boysen.

     There is also a Facebook page “Monticello Breed Ban Lift” to help raise awareness and gain support. Provencher said she plans to bring her fight to the Monticello City Council once they have their ducks in a row.

     It wasn’t until the City of Anamosa lifted their pit bull ban in March. It was that action, with so many people getting behind it, including the Animal Welfare Friends in Monticello, that prompted Provencher to pursue the same results in Monticello.

     While Monticello only bans pit bulls, Iben said that doesn’t mean other breeds could be banned in the future.

     “That could change,” she said.

     “Pit bulls are the only ones being discriminated against right now,” added Boysen.

     In late May, Provencher and the AWF were featured on KCRG for the same reason, lifting the Monticello pit bull ban. She said that segment opened up a can of worms, with so many people reaching out to assist in their efforts.

     It also spurred a lot of hate mail/messages from the other side. Provencher said she was contacted by dogsbite.org as a scare tactic, saying pit bulls deserve to be banned.

     “Groups like this are sharing nothing but bad statistics,” said Boysen.

     Ten years ago, a group of pro-pit bulls tried lifting the ban in Monticello, though they were unsuccessful. With a different make-up of the city council, Provencher said they would try again.

     “We didn’t have enough people to stand behind us,” Boysen said at the time.

     Provencher said she was contacted by a member of the city council, though chose not to reveal the name. Despite having a petition, she was told it wouldn’t hold any weight with the council unless it was signed by strictly Monticello residents.

     “We are still moving forward,” she said.

     The gals are also working on securing statement from animal experts to share with the council.

     “We want people with a professional background to get behind us,” said Provencher. “We need them to stand with us to get the ban lifted.”

     The AWF shelter does take in stray/unwanted pit bulls; however, they are having a hard time adopting those dogs out due to Monticello’s ban.

     “Last year they had a pit bull pup in the shelter and my mom (a volunteer of the shelter) was devastated she couldn’t bring it home because of the ban,” shared Iben. “It’s very hard to adopt them out.”

     Boysen said what many people don’t understand is that there are many breeds that make up a pit bull, as well as several pit bull mixes. “Because it looks like a pit bull, that’s enough to consider a ban,” she said.

     “Even if it’s 1 percent pit bull, it’s banned,” added Provencher.

     Iben said society tends to blame the entire breed if something bad happens, rather than the dog itself or the owner. She said it’s like classifying one human race as being worse than another.

     “We’re all people,” said Iben.

     Provencher said it seems as though an entire city has its mind made up about pit bulls. “You need to experience them for yourself,” she said of making up one’s mind.

     Provencher said pit bulls are known to be loyal to their owners, devoted dogs. They’re known for their strength, and can be trained just like any other dog.

     “They’re very intelligent,” she said.

     As for whether a pit bull’s behavior can be attributed to its owner or the breed, Boysen said it’s 50/50.

     “It’s not just the owners,” she said. “It could be the nature of the day.” She said even people have bad days.

     “Every animal has a different personality,” Provencher said.

     She said there are a lot of good pit bulls owners out there, and “the city just needs to have more faith in its citizens” when it comes to owning a decent dog.

     Boysen added it comes down to be uneducated about a certain breed. “If there’s a problem, they need to take action with the owner, not the breed,” she said.

     Provencher said people tend to only pay attention to the negative facts, and become brainwashed. “There are a ton of good stories out there, too,” she urged.

     That’s the reason for the Facebook page (Monticello Breed Ban Lift), which encourages people to share information, stories and photos of their pit bulls.

     The group is also selling pit bull decals and stickers online at Etsy for $4 to help in their pit bull ban fight.


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