Battle over possible pitbull restrictions in Watertown - WQOW TV: Eau Claire, WI NEWS18 News, Weather, and Sports

Battle over possible pitbull restrictions in Watertown


WATERTOWN (WKOW) -- A Watertown family will be forced to give up one of its dogs or move if the city passes a new animal ordinance next week. The law covers a lot, but singles out pitbulls.

About five years ago, Greg Hoffmann says his family rescued Lizzy. Now the pitbull mix has two siblings, Oreo and Sky, but there's fear the trio could be broken up.

A new ordinance that's up for a vote Tuesday in Watertown City Council cracks down on pitbulls. It outlaws them in apartment buildings and requires homeowners with a pitbull to have only one more dog. Right now, people can have up to four. "It is an injustice and there's no reason for it," Hoffmann tells 27 News.

"We're thinking very seriously about moving. For one thing, I'm not sure if I'd want to stay in a community that's this irrationally close minded," Hoffmann says.

But some City Council members say something needs to be done. Alderman Augie Tietz believes the city has a problem with stray and vicious dogs.

The Watertown Humane Society says targeting pitbulls will not fix the problem and would overwhelm the shelter.

"We don't have the physical capacity to hold the number of dogs that may be surrendered, and none of the surrounding human societies do either," Humane Society Volunteer Treasurer Kristy James says. She expects anywhere between 50 to 200 dogs that would flood in. "It's horrible to think that people are gunna have to give up a family member."

Like the Hoffmann family, the Watertown Humane Society believes breed is not the issue, it has more to do with the owner. That's why the organization is in favor of the ordinance's other provisions that protect the public from dangerous animals.

Alderman Ken Berg says his amendment to take out breed specific language was voted down. He's hoping that his fellow council members will be open to discussing the topic again on Tuesday. If the ordinance is passed on the second read, Berg says it'll become law.


WATERTOWN (WKOW) -- A proposal that would place restrictions on pitbull owners in Watertown is getting criticism.

According to a copy of the ordinance draft sent to 27 News, pitbulls would be banned from multi-family buildings. Homeowners would only be allowed to own one other dog if they already have a pitbull.

The Watertown Humane Society says if passed, this could create a huge burden on their resources. Because they are a no kill shelter, they would have no room for many of the pitbulls that would have to be turned over.

Danielle Lama is heading to Watertown today and will have more about the proposal tonight on 27 News.

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