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Columbus Junction Council plans to ticket pit bull owners. A 1994 ordinance outlaws the dogs in the city.

Columbus Junction Council plans to ticket pit bull owners. A 1994 ordinance outlaws the dogs in the city.

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COLUMBUS JUNCTION — Columbus Junction officials are planning to tackle a reoccurring problem — controlling dogs in the community. The city council discussed hiring a private animal control officer in 2005 and adopted an animal control ordinance in 1994.

However, Mayor Mark Huston told the city council Wednesday that officials have recently seen a noticeable uptick of incidents involving the animals.

He said those have ranged from more dogs running loose in town to more observations of people keeping species of what are collectively known as pit bulls. The 1994 ordinance specifically makes it “unlawful to keep, harbor, own or in any way possess within the city limits of (Columbus Junction) any pit bull dogs, unless those dogs had been licensed on or before June 27, 1994.

Huston said the rash of recent incidents would force the city to clamp down.

“I’m not a dog hater — I don’t think any of us are dog haters — but those residents who own animals inside the city limits need to take responsibility for those animals and realize their neighbors and friends — although their dogs are dear to them as a family — they are not necessarily near and dear to their neighbors,” he explained to the council.

Huston indicated the presence of pit bulls was especially alarming.

“I have never heard of a Chihuahua killing anybody, but I have heard of pit bulls killing (people),” he said.

Huston said city police officers were now spending time responding to dog control complaints and that was taking away valuable law enforcement time.

“I don’t believe it should be police work. There is a lot more important things our police department can be doing, should be doing, than babysitting dogs,” he said.

“I guess I’m putting the city of Columbus Junction on notice that we are going to put a push on for dangerous dogs,” Huston said, adding he directed Columbus Junction Police Chief Donnie Orr and other city employees that if they see pit bulls in town “there need to be tickets issued.”

Council member Hal Prior, who helps coach the Columbus cross-country team agreed and said dog encounter incidents involving some of those runners had occurred this summer.

“We’ve had two runners bitten by dogs,” he reported.

“We need to get it under control (and) we’re going to do it reasonably quickly,” Huston replied, adding city officials knew there are occasions when a pet may inadvertently escape. “We have some empathy, but there is entirely too much of it right now."

In other action, the council approved an earlier request from the Louisa County Ambulance Service to aid with its Oct. 12 Columbus Day barbecue. Aimee Buol had informally asked the council during its Sept. 11 meeting to close off a portion of Gamble Street in front of the ambulance barn and allow the service to operate six-passenger golf carts during its event. The request was similar to ones made by the service the last few years.

In final action the council accepted a $27,262 bid to repair a water line on Oakview Drive. The low bid was submitted by Four Seasons Excavation, West Burlington. Two other bids, one for $59,725 and another for $37,925 were also submitted.

The work will relocate and repair a water line that was damaged by a May mudslide.

Officials are hoping the repair costs will eventually be partially reimbursed by FEMA.

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