County Mulls Over Revised Animal Control Ordinance

The Des Moines County Board of Supervisors will make more changes to a proposed Animal Control Ordinance that’s been over year in the making.

Tuesday’s work session was the first since the board shelved the original ordinance in June. Supervisors said at the time that the issue the ordinance was designed to target–that being a pack of dogs owned by Michael Hanson of of 160th Street in Des Moines County–was no longer an issue. In April of last year, the several of the dogs attacked Hanson’s four-year-old granddaughter, leaving her with serious, permanent injuries. 

The revised ordinance discussed Tuesday focuses exclusively on dogs and eliminates the most controversial aspect of the ordinance shelved in June: a provision that would require animals to be tethered on their owner’s property. Instead, it establishes a county animal control board that will be able to declare dogs potentially dangerous or vicious, which would subject the dogs to ownership restrictions. 

Dogs could be declared potentially dangerous if they “engage in any behavior that requires a defensive action” two times within a 36-month period while the dog is off the property of the its owner, or if the dog attacks and causes injury to a person or other domestic animal. 

A dog could be declared vicious if it bites a person above the waist or is otherwise determined to be vicious by the board. Vicious dogs would not be allowed to be kept within the county. 

Several Des Moines County Residents spoke at the meeting. Judy Mennen’s son was bitten by a dog in July on the dog owner’s property. She said she’d like to see the board allowed to declare dogs potentially dangerous whether or not the incidents occur on the owner’s property or not.

The board plans to make several smaller revisions to the ordinance before discussing it at a future work session, including opening up the animal control board to allow retired veterinarians to serve and mandating that at least one member has animal training experience.