MUSCATINE — The Muscatine City Council will hold a special meeting to allow for public input on proposed changes to the city ordinance banning the ownership of pit bulls on Oct. 28.
During the regular Muscatine City Council meeting, the council members agreed to have a discussion on proposed changes to the city ordinance banning the ownership of pit bull dogs during its Oct. 14 in-depth meeting, but scheduled the Oct. 28 meeting for public input.
According to city administrator Carol Webb, who set up a schedule for the council to consider striking the ban on pit bulls, the Oct. 14 meeting will be used for city staff to give presentations of research on both sides of the issue rather than take public input. The Oct. 28 meeting will specifically be to get input from the community.
The public can also give comment during three readings that would be required to strike the ordinance, if a motion is approved by council. If the council begins the process of changing the ordinance, the first reading of the changes would be during the Nov. 18 meeting to give staff adequate time to evaluate public comments.
“While it would be my preference to fully evaluate those codes prior to considering any changes in the keeping of the pit bull ordinance, I do realize that council committed to a discussion on the matter upon returning to council chambers,” Webb said.
On March 5, 2020, the council voted 6-1 to direct staff to prepare a change to city code, striking the pit bull ban. During discussion, the council agreed there needed to be community input, as well as input from the state humane society. On March 19, 2020, which was the first meeting held by conference call due to the COVID-19 health crisis, council member John Jindrich asked the issue be tabled until the June 2021 meeting, which at the time was thought to be the first in-depth meeting to be held in chambers. Council agreed to hold the conversation in person. Only recently has the council begun holding meetings open to the public again.
Webb said that during the in-depth meeting there would be other business for the council to do and that a public discussion was liable to monopolize the time. Council member Peggy Gordon agreed, but said she did not want the discussion to go too far into November, saying that at that time city staff is busy preparing for budget season and the holidays. Gordon also challenged the council to bundle issues for a safe animal ordinance.
The council previously had a discussion about the pit bull ban in January 2016. During the meeting, in which the council upheld the ban, the lower level and balcony were filled with people showing support to repeal the ban.
Council member Osmond Malcolm said the discussion appeared to be changing from the original intent, which was simply whether the pit bull ban in Muscatine be lifted.
A committee had been formed to discuss the city’s animal ordinances, but found the ordinance was so large that much work would be needed to determine any changes.
Until a change is made, pit bulls are currently not allowed inside the city. The ordinance against the breed was approved Aug. 1, 2003. In addition to dog breeds, there will be discussion on other animal ordinances, such as chickens and bees ordinances.
“We don’t want to do anything hasty,” Webb said, “particularly on this matter.”
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