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Pit bull support

Pit bull owner Amy Boomgarden speaks about pit bulls at the Tuesday Britt City Council meeting.

BRITT — Several pit bull owners spoke at a Britt City Council meeting Tuesday and the council agreed to delay enforcing a community ban on the dog breed.

The ban is part of the city’s vicious dog ordinance, and last month the council had decided to begin enforcing the rule.

Now, whether the law will be enforced or changed will await a review by a committee.

The council’s earlier decision to enforce the ban drew a backlash from various pit bull owners in Britt, the surrounding area and beyond.

“Judge the deed, not the breed,” Jamie Riggs said at Tuesday’s meeting.

Most dog breeding associations and the American Kennel Club, for example, do not recognize a specific pit bull breed. Pit bulls are often a Staffordshire terrier or similar breed.

Owners said their dogs are gentle and good with children and others.

Pit bull owner Amy Boomgarden quoted various veterinary organizations and information from the Center for Disease Control which said breeds known as pit bulls pass temperance tests, are not inherently aggressive and are often “nanny” type animals with children.

Candace Smith said her pit bull plays with her 4-month-old son. The dog “sits on the sidewalk and kids pet her,” Smith said.

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But Councilman Mike Ostercamp said that for every study that shows pit bulls are gentle he can find a study that states pit bulls are aggressive. He said other North Iowa communities have similar bans against pit bulls.

Stacy Swenson said the council and pit bull owners could trade stories all night. She said she understands the council wants to prevent dog bites, but said a breed-specific ban is not the answer.

Council member Paul Verbrugge asked for suggestions on how a dog should be handled after the first bite and second bite.

Boomgarden said after a dog bites a human for the second time, the dog should likely be removed from the owner. The owner should be aware there could be an issue after the first bite, she said.

Council member Curt Gast said he was willing to listen to the input from pit bull owners, however he did not appreciate the tone of comments directed at the council and specific council members that were shared on Facebook postings of the news stories about the council decision to enforce the pit bull ban.

Former council member Chad Luecht agreed many of those comments were in poor taste, but also said he thinks the city should not have a breed-specific ban.

Verbrugge suggested the city form a committee to review input from Tuesday night as well as information from other cities and insurance companies.

Verbrugge, Mayor Ryan Arndorfer, city Administrator/Clerk Shell Anderson and librarian and dog trainer Linda Friedow volunteered for that committee. The council also appointed Bryan Aitchison to the committee.

The committee will also allow residents to volunteer for the committee by using a sign-up sheet at city hall. The committee will develop a recommendation for an ordinance to be considered at the first council meeting in September.

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Rae Yost is editor of the Britt News-Tribune and the Forest City Summit, also Lee Enterprises newspapers.

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