- Associated Press - Wednesday, September 30, 2015

COUNCIL BLUFFS, Iowa (AP) - A woman who was forced to find a new home for her dog is leading an effort to end Council Bluff’s 10-year-old ban on pit bulls.

An animal control officer approached Shala Richardson and her pit bull mix, Stitch, in July and told her she had seven days to remove the family pet. She complied and placed the dog with family outside of Council Bluffs.

“We were all shocked like being sideswiped,” Richardson said. “I cried for two weeks, and I still cry when I think of her. I just thought the law is the law.”

But she was determined to make a change, so she started a petition, which gathered about 700 signatures and is now in the hands of the City Council.

Members of the Council Bluffs City Council will now decide whether to keep or lift the ban, The Daily Nonpareil (https://bit.ly/1PNxnhZ ) reported.

Richardson would like to see an amended law with regulations similar to Omaha, where pit bulls and other so-called “bully breeds” are allowed within city limits as long as the owners follow certain requirements, including the use of a leash and a muzzle while the dog is outside. Pit bull owners in Omaha also must ensure their pets are vaccinated and spayed or neutered, as well as carry $100,000 in liability insurance.

Pit bulls have been banned in Council Bluffs since the beginning of 2005.

Many organizations, including the American Bar Association, the American Veterinary Association and the Animal Rescue Association, oppose breed discrimination, said Sue Jungman, Richardson’s mother, who encouraged her to start the petition. Instead of banning pit bulls, the organizations support laws focusing on the behavior of individual dogs and reckless owners.

“They all come out and say that you shouldn’t pick on one dog,” Jungman said, adding that 1 million pit bulls are euthanized annually. “That’s not right.”

Richardson hopes Council Bluffs and local pit bull owners can come to an agreement so future dog owners don’t have to go through what she did with Stitch.

“We want only positive things to come out of this,” she said.

___

Information from: The Daily Nonpareil, https://www.nonpareilonline.com


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