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Manly City Council delays decision on enforcing town’s no-pit bull rule

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Shelley and Mike Romine of Manly play fetch with their pitbull Maverick on Thursday afternoon.

MANLY — Shelley and Mike Romine have had their male pit bull, Maverick, for four years.

Recently they received a letter from the city telling them they had 10 days to remove their “dangerous” animal from the city limits.

“I thought that was very discriminating,” said Shelley.

The Romines and other local pit bull owners who also received the letters appealed the order Thursday to the Manly City Council.

“They’re not the vicious animals people think they are,” Mike Romine said.

The city of Manly adopted an ordinance banning pit bulls in 2008 following an incident in which a pit bull terrier threatened two young children by backing them against a fence.

The ordinance defines dangerous animals as those “capable of killing or inflicting serious injury,” wild animals such as wolves, coyotes and alligators, and pit bull dogs.

Mayor Kevin Isaacson said he had voted for the ordinance originally but has had a change of heart since.

But when he tried to revisit the ordinance in April, the council decided against rescinding it.

Isaacson said the ordinance has largely been unenforced, but he had decided that if it was on the books, the city should enforce it, hence the letters to the pit bull owners.

“Every dog can be vicious,” said Councilman Scott Heagel, a Mason City mail carrier. “The thing about the ‘pits’ is when they attack, they don’t stop.”

While Heagel said he knows of friendly pit bulls, the behavior of the dogs depends on the way they’ve been trained by the owners.

“And that’s something we can’t control.”

Heagel also noted that other communities have enacted similar laws.

Both Heagel and Councilman Joe Ryan said they have received calls from residents wanting the pit bull ordinance to stay in effect.

Yvonne Meyer, one of about 15 residents at the council meeting, showed the council photos of her 7-year-old pit bull that she said is less aggressive than her chihuahua.

“I would hate to have to put her down,” she said.

Scott Woodward, Manly, said the council was asking people “to break up their homes.”

“You list them with exotic pets,” Woodward said. “They’re canines. They should be treated like that.”

Councilman Ron Post said the ordinance was not approved out of meanness or to imply that pit bull owners are not good people.

“The decision was made to protect people,” he said.

In the end, the council voted to table indefinitely a decision on what action it should take to allow time to get a better reading on the desires of the community as a whole.

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