Muscatine to decide on removing pitbull ban

The dog breed has been forbidden within city limits since 2003.

MUSCATINE, Iowa — The city of Muscatine is as close as it’s ever been to removing its ban on pitbulls within city limits. City council members discussed the ban October 14th, going over different options on how to alter the ban or remove it entirely.

Muscatine assistant chief of police Steve Snider says the ban was initially put in place after a high level of complaints about the dog breed in town in the early 2000s.

“I can document at least five different times that we had to shoot pitbull’s,” Snider said. “And anytime we have to discharge a weapon in the street it’s a danger to the public.”

The ban was put in place in 2003. It was at that time Snider says there was also a surplus of pitbulls at the county animal shelter, causing a problem because of the fact that they weren’t being adopted.

“Pitbull attacks were happening on people’s pets and animals,” says Snider, “And we were having attacks against people as well.”

For dog owners like Matthew Shook, he doesn’t see the point in banning one specific breed of dogs.

“I think just people get nervous when they see bigger dogs or certain types of dogs,” says Shook.

He has two big dogs himself, Lily and Sam. He frequents the dog park with his two dogs where he says people can sometimes get frightened by them, despite their fun-loving nature. He says he’s seen small dogs get aggressive just as much as big dogs. To him, it’s a matter of banning aggressive dogs instead of just one specific dog breed.

“99% of the time it’s not the breed, it’s the owner. So, I think people need to be responsible for their breeds and how they train them,” Shook said.

Despite his opinion, the city has never waivered in their decision to ban the breed for the past 17 years. It’s even posted right outside the city dog parks, stating no pitbulls, or dogs that appear to look like one or have the characteristics of one.

Meghan Koehler is the founder of It Takes a Village Animal Shelter, and she hopes to see the ban lifted. Although, she understands that it needs to happen in a responsible manner.

“Our rescue has offered to foot the bill for a public socialization class, like a training. I worry about any unsocialized dog,” Koehler said. “We have to do it responsibly.”

The shelter will help with classes to teach pitbulls that have been kept out of dog parks how to safely interact with other dogs. On top of that, several council members want to see more laws on being a responsible pet owner in place.

It includes changing laws on tethering pets and making licensing of pets necessary. Those council members saying it’s a matter of making sure all animals are behaving well.

The city council will hold a listening session on October 28th, at 7:00pm to further their discussion on the matter at city hall in Muscatine.