Dog Bites Occurring in Keokuk County
Sigourney News-Review 01.AUG.08
One dog bite on an innocent victim is a dog bite to many.
In recent months, the Sigourney City Council, Keokuk County Public Health and area law enforcement officials have faced some difficult decisions as numerous dog bite incidents have surfaced in the County.
Every pet (dog, cat, etc.) owner has a responsibility to ensure their pet does not cause a nuisance to others. This means that as pet owners, certain laws must be complied with; most of these are straightforward and are in place to ensure people and pets live happily and safely within the community.
The Code of Iowa 351 outlines the ground rules for counties, cities, public health and law enforcement to follow with regards to pet ownership. In Code section 351.38, pet owner duties are defined with regard to bites. �It shall be the duty of the owner of any dog, cat or other animal which has bitten or attacked a person or any person having knowledge of such bite or attack to report this act to a local health or law enforcement official.�
The main duty for the Keokuk County Board of Health according to Director, Marilyn Waechter is to protect the community. Pursuant to Iowa Code, the KC Board of Health is obligated to ascertain vaccination status for any animal reported and/or to ensure the vaccinations (rabies) are current (owner financially responsible), which may include confinement when a bite has occurred (skin is broken due to bite).
The City of Sigourney has taken the Iowa Code and expounded upon it in the City of Sigourney Ordinance IV, Chapter 1: Animal Control (available at the City Clerk�s office). The �At Large Prohibited� ordinance takes the state code a step further by defining the term �at large� to mean: �any licensed or unlicensed animal found off the premises of the owner and not under the control of a competent person, restrained within a motor vehicle, housed in a veterinary hospital or kennel, on a leash or �at heel� beside an competent person and obedient to that person�s command.�
Sigourney City Ordinances also go into detail about dangerous animals and keeping vicious animals. 4-1-9 Keeping a Vicious Animal states: �a vicious animal is deemed so when it shall have attacked or bitten any person (without provocation), or when the propensity to attack or bite persons shall exist and such propensity is known or ought reasonably be known to the owner thereof.� There is also a lengthy definition of �Pit Bull Dog�, which is prohibited within the corporate city limits of Sigourney.
According to Sigourney Police Chief, Allan Glandon, after an animal is deemed vicious and ordered to be removed from the city limits, the Keokuk County Sheriff�s Department is notified as well as the Keota Police Department. As per Iowa Code, medical, veterinary, law enforcement officials as well as residents of Keokuk County are obligated to report pet (dog) bites to ensure the safety of the victim.
Local officials also encourage parents to caution young children on approaching unknown pets to avoid a bite or attack. Many pet owners believe their pet couldn�t or wouldn�t bite, but recent unprovoked dog bites in Keokuk County prove any animal is capable. The following are a few key points in responsible pet (dog) ownership.
� Train dogs in basic obedience so it is under control at all times.
� Train dogs to toilet at home.
� Always have a poop scoop or plastic bag ready when walking dogs.
� Make sure dogs are kept on a lead when in public. It is an offense for dogs to roam the streets.
� Take pets to the vet regularly for their vaccinations.
� Ensure pets receive a healthy well-balanced diet and plenty of exercise.
� Don�t let pets become a nuisance to neighbors.
� Make sure pets have a collar and tags (including an ID tag).
� Worm dogs regularly and groom them frequently.
� Help control the pet population by having pets spayed or neutered.
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Bless the Bullys