A pit bull obtained through a humane society and approved by a veterinarian will be allowed to live in Bloomer, under an amended city ordinance.
The Bloomer City Council voted Wednesday night to amend its current ban on pit bulls, with council member Richard Hofmann voting against.
Under the city’s previous ordinance, pit bulls were banned from living within the city limits, punishable by a fine.
Bloomer residents Kari and Eric Stone were unaware of the city’s pit bull ban until they received a warning from Bloomer police while out walking their pit bull. They appealed to the city to amend the law, since they did not want to get rid of their dog.
The Stones attended the meeting and told council members that the dog has no violent history or complaints against it, and that they were unaware of any pit bull ban when adopting their dog.
“There are no posted and confirmed bans on pit bulls for Chippewa County or the city of Bloomer,” Eric Stone said.
Council member Kevin Meinen worked with the couple on a proposed amendment that would allow for pit bulls adopted through a humane society and cleared by a veterinarian.
There was little council discussion on the amendment before it passed, but more questions arose over whether to remove a muzzle requirement for walking a pit bull.
“It adds to the fire to have to walk the dog with a muzzle,” Eric Stone said. “People will automatically assume the dog is dangerous.”
Hofmann disagreed, saying pit bulls as a breed have been shown to be dangerous. He said there are clear examples of aggressive behavior for the breed, and did not want to make an exception just based on the Stones’ case.
Eric Stone wondered why the city would not make a requirement for all dogs to be muzzled, and not just restrict pit bulls. Council member Jim Koehler agreed, via telephone, and raised the point that other breeds of dog can be aggressive and bite people.
Hofmann questioned whether the city could be sued over a pit bull bite for removing a muzzle requirement.
“Any dog owner is held responsible for damages to property or injury by state law,” Bloomer Police Chief Jared Zwiefelhofer said.
Koehler also suggested the city could consider relaxing the muzzle requirement on a case-by-case basis for a pit bull, though this raised the question of who would review and enforce each case.
“For individual cases, you have to set up a mechanism to review,” said city attorney William Thiel. “Will it be the chief of police? Do we appoint an animal control officer?”
Koehler motioned to remove the muzzle requirement, and he and Meinen voted in favor. However, Hofmann and council member Jeff Steinmetz voted against the change, and Mayor Randy Summerfield broke the tie by voting against.
“It’s ‘no’ for today, but we can come back with a reasonable proposal on how to handle each specifically,” Summerfield said.
In other board action
The City Council voted unanimously to approve the purchase of a pickup truck for the street department and a new SUV for the police department.
Zwiefelhofer said the police department looked at bids for cars and SUVs, and he recommended the city approve purchase of a Ford SUV made special for police departments.
(Ed. note: An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated that the Stones were fined by the police. According to Eric Stone, they were given a warning.)