Thursday, January 8, 2009

Castalia considering ban on pit bulls (IA)

Decorah,IA

An ordinance banning pit bulls, except for those currently in town, is being considered by the Castalia City Council.

Monday night, the Council scheduled a public hearing on the ordinance that prohibits the dogs, or regulates the ownership of those dogs located within Castalia before the adoption of the ordinance. The hearing is at 7:30 p.m. during the Council's Monday, Feb. 2, meeting at City Hall.

There is one known pit bull in Castalia, according to City Clerk Chris Bodensteiner. After it was observed running at large by residents, they expressed their concerns about the dog. The ordinance is modeled after one adopted about a year ago by the city of West Union.

Few cities in Iowa have such ordinances, according to Decorah City Attorney Rick Zahasky. If it's adopted, Castalia would be the only city in Winneshiek County to have one.

The ordinance sets out specific bulls that were located within the city before adoption of the ordinance.

The proposed ordinance states: "No person shall permit a pit bull dog to go outside its kennel or pen unless such dog is securely leashed with a leash no longer than four feet. No person shall permit a pit bull dog to be kept on a chain, rope or other type of leash outside its kennel or pen unless a person is in physical control of the leash.

"Such dogs may not be leashed to inanimate objects such as trees, posts, buildings, etc. In addition, all pit bull dogs on a leash outside the animal's kennel must be muzzled by a muzzling device sufficient to prevent such dog from biting persons or other animals."

The ordinance would require all pit bulls to be "securely confined indoors or in a securely enclosed and locked pen or kennel, except when leashed and muzzled." The kennel must have secure sides and a secure top attached to the sides and must be locked when the animals are within the structure. It It must comply with all zoning and building regulations of the city.

The proposed ordinance also prohibits keeping pit bulls on a porch, patio or in any part of a house or structure that would allow the dog to exit the building on its own volition. Pit bull owners also would be required to place an easily readable sign on their property using the words "Beware of dog," with another similar sign posted on the kennel of the animal.

Liability insurance

Pit bull owners also would be required under the ordinance to provide the city clerk's office with proof of public liability insurance in a single incident amount of $500,000 for bodily injury to or death of any person or persons or for damages to property. The policy can't be cancelled unless 10 days written notice is given to the clerk's office.

The ordinance specifies reporting requirements for pit bull owners, including the address and number of all pit bulls in the city, the removal or death of a pit bull, the birth of offspring of a pit bull, including the address of the offspring and number of offspring, and the new address of a pit bull owner should the owner move within the city limits.

"Any pit bull dog found within the city that is not reported to the city clerk's office is subject to a rebuttable presumption that the dog is being held in violation of this chapter and subject to all the penalties defined," the ordinance states.

"Any dog found to be the subject of a violation of this chapter shall be subject to immediate seizure and impoundment. In addition, failure to comply may result in the immediate removal of the animal from the city."

Violating the ordinance is punishable by up to a $500 fine and 30 days in jail. In addition, the city will order the pit bull to be removed.

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