North Liberty looks to change city animal ordinances

By  | 

NORTH LIBERTY, Iowa (KCRG) North Liberty is taking steps to overhaul its animal ordinances, specifically looking at the ones dealing with feral cats and potentially dangerous dogs.

Police Chief Diane Venenga said she has worked for these changes for several months in response to people's complaints.

"We take in quite a few feral and stray cats from Golf View Court and Holiday Mobile Home," Venega said. "It's been quite a problem."

Venenga says a group of neighbors started putting out humane traps for feral cats about eight months ago. The group would then take the animals to get spay or neutered. But that's actually illegal to do now, under city code.

The goal is to decrease the stray cat population. And the program -- called Trap-Neuter-Return -- has worked in other communities, according to the Humane Society.

"You set a trap. You catch, in a humane way, these cats, you take it to a veterinarian and they determine if it's overall healthy," Preston Moore, Iowa State Director of the United States Humane Society, said. "It becomes spay or neutered. By putting it back where the cat was, maintaining its territory, [it] defends that territory so no new cats come in [and] they don't breed anymore."

The city decided to take it a step further to look at other animal ordinances. Right now, the city has a dangerous dog ordinance.

"If it's declared dangerous, that dog has to either be put down humanely or removed from the city," Venenga said.

The new rules would change that, and dogs could be labeled "potentially dangerous." Officers could then work with the owner to set up confinement areas, like fences. Or, owners could sign dogs up for obedience lessons or a trainer.

And most important, Venenga said, officers will look at the reason why the dog had an incident.

"Any animal can be potentially dangerous," Venenga said. "But, we really wanted to put that in there -- in case they were provoked or threatened or protecting family or property, [it] won't fall under potentially dangerous animal."

The ordinances need to pass three readings, passing the first on Tuesday night. City council will vote on it again at its next meeting.