After report of a pit bull at an Emmetsburg residence, Emmetsburg Police issued an order that the dog be removed from the city limits, complying with City Code on Dangerous and Vicious Animals. Emmetsburg City Council upheld that order after an appeal from the owner Monday night.
Amanda Hay, 1305 Palmer, is owner of the pit bull. She requested the appeal hearing to be held at the June 24 City Council meeting. A letter to the council stated, in part: "I find it very unfair to her (the dog) and myself that she has to leave simply because you fear the word Pitbull. A whole breed should not be banned only because of media publicity. This breed is not dangerous by nature; they are dangerous due to ownership. A bad person with a dog of any bred is capable of producing a dangerous dog. I'm asking you to stop punishing dogs for human's actions."
Emmetsburg Police Chief Eric Hanson informed the council of his department's course of action, beginning with a complaint issued by a neighbor on June 3. Officer Trent Nelson made contact with Amanda Hay, explaining that having the pit bull within the City of Emmetsburg is a violation of city ordinance and that the dog needed to be removed from town. Nelson made a follow-up visit on June 6 and noted that Amanda had not yet found a place for the dog.
Chief Hanson went to the residence on June 16 and found the dog to be in violation of City Code. Hanson told the council, "On Monday, June 18, per our ordinance and the complaint, I drafted the notice with an order to remove the dog within the next three days. I gave Amanda a copy of the ordinance.
"As a council, I suppose you could grant an exception for this particular case or that you agree with my order and uphold my enforcement of Emmetsburg City Code."
City Administrator John Bird noted, "I'm sure you know this type of ordinance is not unique to Emmetsburg to ban this type of dog. I'm sure you've seen in the news the type of damage they can do when whatever triggers them. They can do some serious damage to people and could result in death."
Amanda reported her research regarding pit bulls, pointing out that they are no different than any other dog in that weight class, including German shepherds, rottweilers and chows. "The media focuses on pit bulls because they are pit bulls," she said.
She questioned why pit bulls are the only breed banned in the ordinance.
Ashley Haar told the council that her neighbor has an American bulldog that has attacked her children and her own dog and nothing has been done.
Councilman Tony Kauten related, "I actually called my insurance company before I bought my dog to see if that breed would be okay. I don't know what caused you to move to Emmetsburg, but you know there is a certain stigma with pit bulls. That would be something I'd be checking before moving to a community."
Amanda said she had Googled Emmetsburg city ordinance before moving here and could not find anything about pit bulls being banned. Emmetsburg City Clerk Kim Kibbie said Emmetsburg's ordinances are not on the website.
Jennifer Isbell and Gloria Dugan spoke favorably of Amanda Hay's pit bull, referring to the dog as "tame" and "gentle."
Amanda Hay said her dog is never outdoors alone, pointing out that it is a house dog and prefers being indoors. "Even the day the call was made, she wasn't outside alone," she said.
Councilman Corey Gram- owski stated again, the ordinance does not allow pit bulls.
Councilman Steve Finer added, "We don't have any other choice. The question isn't how lovable she is. The problem is, she's a pit bull."
"Unfortunately, the ordinance doesn't say if it's a house dog it's okay. It's a pit bull . The ordinance the city has is something we stand by," said Mayor Myrna Heddinger.
Kimberly Steffens, Amanda's mother, questioned whether the dog could be considered a guard dog.
Gramowski reiterated, "The problem is, this type of dog is prohibited."
"Unfortunately, our hands are tied," added Finer. "We need to abide by the code."
By unanimous vote, Emmetsburg City Council voted to uphold the order written by Police Chief Eric Hanson. The order will be served to Amanda Hays and, according to the Code, the dog must be removed from the City of Emmetsburg within three days of receipt of the notice.