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      Ottumwa hearing on pit bulls

      The Ottumwa City Council met on Monday evening in a work session to listen to supporters in favor of lifting the ban on pit bulls in the city.

      Citizens packed the council chambers at City Hall on Monday to give their feedback on the issue.

      In 1989, Ottumwa made its first attempt to regulate American Pit Bull Terriers: Staffordshire Bull Terriers or American Staffordshire Bull Terriers. At that time, "pit bulls" were prohibited from being inside the city limits unless they were show dogs, or were used as guard or sentry dogs.

      In 2003, the City of Ottumwa passed an even tougher forbid any citizen from owning a pit bull as a pet or guard dog.

      Councilman Jeremy Weller said that the most important thing is to protect the citizens of Ottumwa.

      "We're not introducing legislation across the State of Iowa or the federal government. We're only looking out for the City of Ottumwa," Councilman Weller said.

      Ottumwa resident Shawn James spoke at Monday's meeting on behalf of the supporters challenging the ban. He stated that citizens should have the right to own pit bulls...and that pet owners who do not take care of, or control their dogs, should be held responsible.

      "If these people are not willing to follow and abide by the laws, then they should be held responsible for their actions...for not following the laws that are in place. I do not believe that you should blame it on the breed," James said.

      "We will continue to enforce this law aggressively as long as the council chooses to have this law on the books," said Chief Jim Clark of the Ottumwa Police Department.

      There is no indication that the City of Ottumwa is inclined to consider lifting this ban, but they are willing to listen.

      Council members will continue to discuss the matter.