Pit bull supporters address council against ban

City Council
Kim Brooks
Express Editor

     The issue of the night during the Aug. 6 Monticello City Council concerned the pit bull ban.

     Many people stood up to speak against the city’s breed-specific ban during the Open Forum. The movement was led by Jo Provencher who, at one time, lived in Monticello but moved outside of city limits so she could raise her pit bull Lucky.

     “I am requesting that the breed ban be lifted,” said Provencher. “Banning any type of dog forces people to hide dogs that they wish to have.”

     She said blaming one type of dog as the most dangerous is not politically correct. Provencher said the problem often lies with the pet owner, and not the dog itself. By having a breed ban in place, she said, “We are keeping good dogs from good pet owners.”

     As for the “dangerous” label that is many times associated with pit bulls, Provencher claimed, “Evil is not born; it is taught.” There, again, insinuating that the problem is the owner.

     “Pit bulls are not the only breed of dog causing pain out there,” added Provencher. “Instead of looking up ‘pit bulls attacks,’ look up ‘pit bull heroic deeds’ and you will find the true nature of these animals.”

     She said any pet owner views their pet as a member of the family, and several years ago, Provencher had to find the words to tell her little girl that their pit bull, Lucky, was not allowed to go on walks through town. She said forcing people to seek veterinary care and grooming services outside of town is a loss of business in Monticello.

     “While dog attacks can be horrible and have a devastating result,” concluded Provencher, “we need to have open minds and open hearts. That’s a good way to live.”

     Preston Moore, the Iowa director for The Humane Society of the U.S., was also in attendance. His job involves working with state and city officials/law makers on cases like this, working to lift breed-specific bans that benefit everyone.

     “I want to offer myself as a resource to your community,” offered Moore.

     Prior to the council meeting, Moore personally reached out to the council members and Mayor Brian Wolken, having heard back from a few of the city officials. He sent out packets containing laws and ordinances around the country that Monticello could work on implementing. “These would make Monticello a safer and welcoming community and accomplish what you’re trying to do,” he said of pleasing both sides of the debate.

     “With laws like this, one size does not fit all,” added Moore.

     He said rather than ban an entire breed, the city could establish due process as a dog is deemed dangerous or vicious. “Breed is not a factor in the majority of fatal dog bites. It’s how humans interact with the animal.”

     Donna Penne with the Cedar Valley Pit Bull Rescue said rather than ban pit bulls, the city needs to make sure the dogs are being placed in responsible homes.

     “There are a lot of backyard breeders,” she said, “and they have no reason to have dogs at all. That is the problem. You need to hold owners accountable; that’s where it starts.”

     David Boehm, president of the Animal Welfare Friends Shelter in Monticello, said they receive pit bulls all the time and have trouble finding them homes locally.

     “They all come in from different situations,” said Boehm. “You need to hold owners responsible.”

     Amy Bunn also addressed the council, calling herself an implant of Monticello.

     “I enjoy this town because it’s small and where I wanted to raise my family,” she said.

     Having owned three pit bulls, Bunn said it’s not the dog, but how the dog is raised, brought up around other people, and the logic behind owning a dog.

     “A breed ban doesn’t do anything for anyone,” she said. “It’s ridiculous. You need to reconsider allowing families to have their pets live with them in town.”

     Sara Kraus read a statement from Dubuque City Council member Kate Larson, who was unable to attend the Monticello council meeting. Larson herself is the owner of two pit bulls and an advocate for the breed.

     “They are the number one family pet in Iowa,” read Kraus.

     Larson said the City of Dubuque judges a dog by its actions and the owners, not by its breed.

     “I hope you repeal your breed-specific ban and focus on responsible pet ownership and teach children the appropriate way to approach any breed of dog, breaking free of the negative stigma,” concluded Larson.

     Following the 20-minute allotted timeframe, Mayor Wolken said the council would take time to process the comments made during the council meeting. He said if the council chose to make any decisions at a future council meeting, notice would be made public.



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