For two months, the proposed ban on pit bulls in Platteville was one of the most hotly debated subjects among dog owners nationwide, with tens of thousands of people signing petitions against the proposed ban.
Ultimately, the Platteville Common Council didn’t vote on banning pit bulls, or even to change the portion of the city’s municipal code that deals with vicious dogs.
A proposal from the pit bull ban author, at-large Ald. Mike Denn, to study other communities’ vicious dog ordinances for possible changes to Platteville’s ordinances, lost 4–2 April 14. Denn and District 4 Ald. Ken Kilian voted in favor of further study.
As a result, no changes to the ordinance ended up being made, including the parts the Freudenreich Animal Care Trust Fund committee favored — banning dogs owned for dog-fighting, and specifying how dog owners should care for their dogs, including shelter, daily watering and feeding, and “daily contact to provide care and companionship as needed.”
At-large Ald. Amy Seeboth-Wilson called the issue “by far and away the most public response I’ve seen on any issue so far,” with public opinion “overwhelmingly against” the proposed ban.
That included public opinion well outside Platteville. Kirk Halma, the owner of K-9 Motivation dog training in Woodstock, Ill., said the proposal “is harmful to the community because it causes stress for the majority of dog owners who do the right thing. … This is really not an issue of dogs at all.”
Carla Holloway of Platteville called the ban “unfeasible” because it is “impossible to identify a breed of dog on sight. … It’s a waste of time and resources; it is not supported by credible sources; it is not supported by the Platteville community.”
Denn’s proposal was introduced nine months after an attack upon a dog by a dog that appeared to police to be a pit bull.
The pit bull’s owner was fined for allowing a dog to injure a domestic animal, and sued by the injured dog’s owner. After another incident two weeks later, police told the pit bull owner that he would be fined every day the pit bull was in Platteville under city ordinances.
Denn said his proposal was not about dog bites, but about fatal dog attacks, which he said inordinately occur from pit bulls.
“Dog bites don’t go down with this, but that’s not what we’re talking about,” he said.
The Freudenreich committee favored removing the pit bull ban provision and another provision that would have allowed police to seize and, “upon establishing the vicious character of such dog or animal,” kill an animal found off its owners’ property. It would also allow police to kill or tranquilize an animal “to prevent real and immediate personal injury to any person” including the officer.
Denn then introduced his proposal to review the current ordinance — “basically what we have on the table right now we’re going to discuss,” he said, adding that he had collected vicious dog ordinances from “about 10 communities.
“Why in blazes are we even monkeying with it?” asked at-large Ald. Dick Bonin.