CEDAR FALLS | Change may be on the way to the city's dangerous animal ordinance. The Cedar Falls City Council is beginning to look into the issue after several council members received two email complaints about aggressive animals within the last two weeks.
"This is the first time that anyone's ever complained or offered a concern about this directly to me, and it’s interesting they both came within two weeks,” said Councilman at-large Nick Taiber.
Taiber said the emailed complaints dealt primarily with attacks by pit bulls within the city limits that went unreported to the police.
Concerned, Taiber requested Police Chief Jeff Olson look into the number of aggressive animal attacks in the area with an emphasis on pit bulls.
According to Olson, there were 471 animal-related calls last year, 29 of which were aggressive in nature. Of those 29 incidents, six involved pit bulls or "a similar breed." The calls involved one to two pit bulls either chasing people or attacking another dog. Olson noted two of the six reported incidents involved the same dog at the same location on different dates.
So far this year -- according to figures from January to Nov. 4 -- there have been 432 animal calls, 18 of which are listed as aggressive. Of those 18 incidents, only two were involved pit bulls. One reported incident on June 22 involved a pit bull running loose and behaving aggressively. In a separate incident on Oct. 30, a pit bull almost attacked another dog and its owner.
With these numbers in mind, Taiber is hoping to bring about a gradual change in how the city deals with owners of aggressive animals. The city of Waterloo is also investigating making changes to its animal ordinance following a rash of pit bull attacks earlier this year.
It is important, Taiber said, that any changes Cedar Falls makes to its city code focus on irresponsible pet owners rather than singling out a particular breed of dog.
"I don’t want an ordinance to ban a particular kind of dog,” Taiber said. "I want to strengthen our nuisance ordinance.”
Taiber, who has written about the issue in an online blog, thinks it’s a matter of personal responsibility. While Taiber is happy with the city’s current ordinance, he thinks negligent pet owners should be subject to stiffer fines, especially those who are repeat offenders.
He hopes further discussion among council members will be productive in eventually crafting a new ordinance.
“In no way, shape or form do I think it’s acceptable to live in a community where we fear to walk down a street or a trail or bike downtown,” Taiber said.