Bluffs Advances Pit Bull Ban

For the second time this year, Council Bluffs is considering a complete ban on the ownership of pit bull terriers.

The city council took up the issue again Monday night and fans of the breed showed up in force to protest. The message: Ban the deed, not the breed.

Robert Pickett has been a dog trainer for 30 years and he's watched these kinds of debates evolve for decades.

He says, "Five years ago, a news station interviewed me because it was rottweilers. Ten years ago they interviewed me because it was Dobermans. Fifteen-years-ago they interviewed me because it was German shepherds.

Pickett says that pit bulls are no more aggressive than any other dog. The problem he sees is that too many people who own the dogs for the image allow or train them to be aggressive and don't handle them responsibly.

He says, "I have attack dogs, my police dogs. I don't let them run loose in the neighborhood."

But too many stories of pit bull attacks have led to a proposed ban on the dogs before the city council.

Councilman Chad Primmer says, "This is what I believe the citizens of Council Bluffs want me to do.

Lynne Branigan agrees and says, "If someone's hurt extremely badly we have lost the opportunity to protect out citizens."

A spokesperson from the Health Department at Monday's meeting described what he calls a dramatic increase in pit bull attacks.

In all, there have been 111 reported cases of dog bites in the city this year and 23-percent of those involved pit bulls even though those dogs represent just 4-percent of the city's dog population.

But the overflow crowd of opponents gave the council an earful for well over an hour Monday night.

In the end, three of the five council members voted in favor of the ban in Monday's initial vote. It still faces two more votes by the council and some of the opponents on hand Monday night vowed to demonstrate from now until Christmas if necessary to get their point across.

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