MUSCATINE, Iowa–Jan. 13, the Muscatine City Council voted five to two to place a moratorium on Title Six, Chapter Nine of city code, which regulates the keeping of pit bull dogs, until May 11. While the moratorium does not permit people to bring new pit bulls into the city limits and does not change judgements on previous pit bull citations, it does allow the city to stop new enforcement measures while it debates whether to remove the ordinance, change it, or keep it.
Third Ward City Council Member Peggy Gordon, who originally requested putting the moratorium on the agenda, clarified that the idea for the moratorium had come up spontaneously after a meeting with Mayor Brad Bark and several city staff members prior to the Jan. 5 council meeting. However, Gordon felt that it offered a good way for the city to continue addressing this long standing issue. “Let’s reduce the time and the heartache invested in enforcing this ordinance at this time, and that’s what this intent is, a temporary moratorium on the breed ban to give us time to get everything implemented that we can to start moving forward,” she said.
At Large Council Member Angela Lewis spoke in favor of implementing the moratorium and eventually changing the code. “I can tell you there have been many nights where I spent doing my own research, doing my own due dilligence, reaching out to communities with pit bull ordinances where they changed it to a viscous ban and the were more successful when the put the viscous ban in place,” she detailed.
Next, Fifth Ward City Council Member John Jindrich maintained that the city did not need a moratorium to help them refine their thoughts on the pit bull ordinance and that they should simply vote on it. “I understand the good intentions of the moratorium, but I don’t see its benefit,” he stated. “I think we need to vote to maintain our pit bull ban and get it done.”
Fourth Ward Council Member Nadine Brockert lent her support to the moratorium, but reminded people that it does not change enforcement against viscous animals. “I am in favor of the moratorium, but I do believe our animal control folks and our police department will deal with aggressive and dangerous animals as they have and should, no matter what the breed, no matter if it’s a cat, dog, or whatever,” she emphasized.”
Though First Ward Council Member Dennis Froelich appreciated the need to revise the part of the code dealing with pit bulls, he expressed concern that implementing a moratorium set a bad president. “I agree that we need to upgrade the codes to make them more fair and equitable,” he acknowledged. “For me the problem is suspending the city code that’s been in effect and not having due process.”
Gordon later pointed out that while implementing a moratorium does not happen often, the city has done it previously.
After initially having concerns about imposing a moratorium, Second Ward City Council Member Jeff Osborne shared that he felt a moratorium could give the council a chance to gather more information about how the city would handle not having a pit bull ban. “For me, it’s an opportunity for us to really see what happens,” he said.
At Large City Council Member DeWane Hopkins elected not to speak before the council voted to implement the moratorium. Over the next four months, the council will have the opportunity to bring Title Six, Chapter Nine back up for discussion.