TONIGHT AT 10: Controversial Canine - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

TONIGHT AT 10: Controversial Canine

Posted: Updated:
(KWWL) -

Pit bulls: They're dogs, they're pets, and in many instances, they're a magnet for debate.

Many people in eastern Iowa have strong opinions about the breed; whether that's a positive or negative connotation. KWWL's Ally Crutcher is digging deeper into the pit bull debate in this Special Report: Controversial Canine.

Ally talks to both a pit bull attack victim, and a mom who spent nearly 12 years with a pit bull as part of her family. The story takes a balanced approach, and showcases two very different experiences.

Controversial Canine looks at the animal ordinances for each major city in eastern Iowa, as well as, several towns that choose to ban the breed. Ally also contacted a representative for each major city in the KWWL viewing area, inquiring about the fines and consequences for owners in a dog attack.

Find each of those responses below:

The breed of dog does not matter in an attack case.  There are so many variables in each case – as each case is unique.    Each ticket issued is $200.00 plus court costs.    - Sandie Greco, Waterloo Interim Public Works Director 

A court appearance is required for a dog bite case in CF. We can’t set the fine like we would on most traffic offenses. The fine is typically in the $250 range. We could also take the dog into custody if the dog hasn’t had its shots or if the dog is considered to be a dangerous animal which means the owner must abide by certain agreed upon terms with the city before the dog can be returned to the owner. In a case of repeat offenses, the city could have the animal put to sleep.   - Jeff Olson, Cedar Falls Chief of Police 

There is no definitive answer to your question.  Fines and consequences are based on individual circumstances and the judge’s determination after hearing evidence from both parties.  It’s also important to note that Cedar Rapids does not have breed specific language in their ordinance, so the fact that a dog is a pit bull wouldn’t make a difference as to the severity of the fine or consequence.  Some of the circumstances taken into consideration would be:

·       Was the dog at large when the attack took place, or was the dog on its own property

·       Was the attack provoked, i.e., a stranger enters the owners home or property or raises their voice in an aggressive manner - any action that a dog would consider threatening

·       Was someone taking food or toy away from the animal, or did something happen that might startle or hurt the dog, i.e., old, arthritic Daisy is laying in the backyard sunning herself and snoozing while the kids play around her, someone trips and falls on Daisy’s old hips and startles her out of her while causing her pain, she snaps and bites.  This would be considered a provoked incident and not an intentional attack.

·       Was the attack on a person, or another animal

·       Is the dog current on rabies

·       Is this the first incident or second

·       Were there witnesses to the attack(s)

·       What is the severity of the attack, i.e., scratch, bite wound, major injury requiring hospitalization or surgery, etc.

The ordinances that apply are below for your reference.


Dangerous animal: A dangerous animal is defined as one who meets one or more of the following conditions:

(a)   Any animal which attacks, bites, or has a history of attacking a human being or other domestic animal one or more times, without provocation.

(b)   Any animal engaging in or found to have been trained to engage in exhibitions of fighting. 

(c)   Any animal previously declared a potentially dangerous animal that bites a human being without provocation.

Potentially Dangerous:  A potentially dangerous animal is defined as one who meets one or more of the following conditions, as determined by the Manager or the Manager’s designee:

(a)   Any animal that when unprovoked: (i) inflicts an injury on a human being that does not require medical treatment, (ii) injures a domestic animal, or (iii) chases or approaches a person upon streets, sidewalks, or any public grounds in a menacing fashion or apparent attitude of attack; or

(b)   Any specific animal with a known propensity, tendency, or disposition to attack when unprovoked, to cause injury, or to threaten the safety of humans or domestic animals.


(a) The Animal Control Manager or his/her designee may impose special security and/or care requirements upon the owner of a potentially dangerous animal, such as but not limited to:

1. A potentially dangerous animal shall be contained in a proper enclosure to prevent the entry of any person or animal and the escape of said potentially dangerous animal;

2. The potentially dangerous animal will be spayed or neutered;

3. The potentially dangerous animal will be implanted with a microchip containing owner identification information.  The microchip information must be registered with the animal control authority; and

4. The owner of the potentially dangerous animal may be required to enter the animal in a socialization and/or behavior modification program approved or offered by the Animal Control Manager.

(b) No animal declared potentially dangerous is allowed outside a proper enclosure unless the potentially dangerous animal is under the control of a responsible person as defined in Section 23.01, and muzzled and restrained in accordance with the specifications of the Animal Control officer. Any muzzle shall be made in a manner that will not cause injury to the animal or interfere with its vision or respiration but shall prevent it from biting any human being or other animal.

(c) No animal may be declared dangerous or potentially dangerous that inflicts injury or damage on a person committing a willful trespass or other tort upon premises occupied by the owner or lessee of the animal, or committing or attempting to commit a crime.

(d) No animal may be declared dangerous or potentially dangerous for taking any action to defend or protect a human being or other animal within the immediate vicinity of the animal from an unjustified attack or assault.

(e) No animal used in connection with lawful activities of law enforcement officials shall be declared a dangerous or potentially dangerous animal.

Dogs declared dangerous by the court are not allowed within the City limits.  

- Diane P. Webber, Program Manager, Cedar Rapids Animal Care & Control 

If a dog attacks or bites an individual our staff will look at multiple provisions of the code to determine the violations and possible penalties.  For example, staff checks:

  1. Was the dog running loose at the time of the attack/bite
  2. Was the dog licensed at the time of attack/bite
  3. Did the dog have a current rabies vaccination on file
  4. Does the dog have a history of bites/attacks
  5. Severity of the attack/bite

Any violations written under our code as municipal infractions have the possibility of a fine up to $750 for a 1st offense with $85 court costs and a corrective order from the court which would vary based on the circumstances.  If the violation is a repeat offense the fine could be up to $1,000 plus $85 court costs and a corrective court order.  A bite/attack incident could result in multiple municipal infractions.   - Crenna Brumwell, Dubuque City Attorney 

I am referring you to City of Iowa City code for that information- see the link below. In particular 8-4-4 and 8-4-7.

If you have more specific questions, let me know.    - Liz Ford, Iowa City Animal Services Supervisor

To see the full Special Report: Controversial Canine, watch the KWWL News at 10 tonight. 

Powered by Frankly