Pitbull ESA ordinance passes with amendments

City Council
Kim Brooks
Express Editor

     Two contentious ordinances were unanimously approved by the Monticello City Council during their Monday, Nov. 19 meeting. But, not without much discussion to bring the council members up to date and on the same page.

     The third and final reading of the Animal Protection and Control ordinance passed. To be clear, this ordinance amendment does not address the city’s current pitbull ban. The amendment addresses whether or not to allow pitbulls as emotional support animals (ESA).

     With the passing of the ordinance, the council also included two amendments. One requires proof of the dog as an ESA through a licensed medical/mental health professional. The other dictates that the ESA owners will be cited if the pitbull is at large, without public incident. If the dog gets loose a second time without incident, the dog will be removed from city limits.

     City Administrator Doug Herman admitted that following the passage of the second reading he gave the proposed ordinance some critical review. In past readings, the timeframe for submitting an ESA application was Oct. 10, 2018. The new deadline was moved to Nov. 19, 2018, the passage of the final reading. The city has had three residents submit the required paperwork to allow their pitbull to remain as an ESA.

     New council member Brenda Hanken asked whether ESA require special training. Mayor Wolken said service dogs require specialized training, not ESA. Hanken also asked why the city couldn’t work with each owner requesting an ESA on an individual basis.

     “It’s not feasible to assess animals case-by-case,” said Wolken. “That’s impractical.”

     Council member Dave Goedken agreed. “There’s no feasible way to analyze the temperament of every dog. That’s the reason breed bans are in place.”

     Preston Moore with the Iowa Humane Society asked several questions of the council, one being what evidence would be needed to determine whether an ESA bit someone.

     “Direct evidence, witnesses, and a bite mark,” answered Herman.

     Moore also commented that when citing online date/information, “there is a difference between scientific studies versus an online blog post or news article that discusses the pitbull breed debate.”

     The council passed the second reading of the Peddlers, Solicitors, and Transient Merchants ordinance to allow food trucks to operate within city limits.

     Herman said between the first and second readings, he only received one, positive e-mail from someone stating he/she felt the ordinance was appropriate.

     No changes were made with the passage of the second reading. It does state that a food truck cannot operate within 100 feet of the entrance of a nearby restaurant, with the exception of special events.

     Herman advised the council that they could place restrictions on hours of operation within certain areas of town like First Street, for example.

     “You could give some thought to geographic areas during certain timeframes,” he said.

     The council was not in support of allowing a food truck to park in front of a downtown business for two hours, hindering customer parking.

     Holly Trevino would very much like to operate her food truck business in Monticello.

     “This is no different than any other business being next door to each other,” she said of the proposed restricted areas. She said just because her business is on wheels, she should not be treated any differently.

     Herman suggested he, Trevino, a few council members, and the chamber meet to iron out the final details before passing the third and final reading at the Dec. 3 council meeting.

     The council felt setting the food truck license fee per resolution was better than adding it to the ordinance.

In other city business:

     The council is seeking ideas for the future tree dump/yard waste site. The sites do not have to lie within city limits. Any suggestions can be directed to City Hall.

     • The city will host a meeting regarding the Sycamore Street Reconstruction Project on Tuesday, Nov. 27, from 5-7 p.m. inside the council chambers. Letters will be mailed out to property owners inviting them to attend. The meeting will allow people to discuss the scope of the project. The project will encompass Sycamore Street from First through Seventh streets.



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