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Vinton Today – Pit Bulls-Open Letter to Benton County Supervisors, Mayor of Keystone and Legislators

Good morning Benton County Supervisors (Gary Bierschenk, Rick Primmer and Tracy Seeman) and Keystone City Council members (Cindy Behrens, Kathy Janss, Michael Kaiser, Tim Kruse, Richard Loy Jr. and Mayor Eric Janss)

My name is Preston Moore and I am the Iowa State Director of the Humane Society of the United States. It is my privilege to work alongside Iowa legislators and law enforcement as they work on legislation and work to enforce our state’s animal laws, as well as highlight and recognize our state officials when they effectively enforce our state’s animal cruelty code, chapter 717B. I have also worked directly with state agencies such as the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Management and the Iowa Department of Inspections and Appeals on administrative regulations related to animals.

Most recently, I worked alongside state legislators in 2022 to pass Senator Dan Dawson’s (R – Council Bluffs) “Beagle Freedom Bill,” which requires all taxpayer-funded animal research laboratories to establish animal adoption programs, in instead of needlessly slaughtering animals when research projects are complete. I am a lifelong Iowan and I care deeply about helping Iowa leaders enact meaningful and impactful animal laws.

I am reaching out today because I have been contacted by ten (10) families in Keystone, IA who apparently received a ten day notice to recall their dog because they “resemble” dogs that could be described as a “pit bull”. ” in appearance. I have worked with communities across the state, from Maquoketato, Sioux City, and Laurel to the big cities of Muscatine and small towns of a few hundred people, to pass strict dangerous animal codes that accomplish two goals: 1) Give local municipalities and counties the authority to protect citizens from potentially dangerous animals and intervene when there is a legitimate and documented risk to public safety; 2) Protect the private property rights of citizens in every community, allowing families to live in peace without fear that someone, one day, will take over your dog for the mere fact of thinking that it “has” a certain shape.

I am hopeful that we can add Keystone and Benton County to the ever-growing list of communities that have changed course and adopted breed-neutral animal laws.

CC’d in this communication are various state legislators

– Rep. Thomas Gerhold and Sen.-elect Charlie McClintock from your area, along with legislators at the state level who have introduced legislation in recent years to require communities to adopt neutral codes for dangerous animals rather than implement ineffective breed restrictions – Senator Chris Cournoyer, House Minority Leader Representative Jennifer Konfrst, Representative Molly Donahue, Representative Tracy Ehlert and Representative Brian Meyer.

In addition to asking the City of Keystone and Benton County to review their laws, I am hopeful that this bipartisan group of legislators can work together to prevent this type of situation from occurring.

I have worked with families across the state to help them keep their dogs in their homes. But this situation is different. For a community to attempt to seize or otherwise remove the beloved pets of ten families is unprecedented in Iowa. These families deserve to live without fear of their dogs, their property, their family members, their companions, being taken away. to the city’s force and potentially euthanized without any cause or documented history of unwanted behavior. I cannot overstate how much trauma an event of this magnitude will cause in your community, both for those directly affected and those not.

These bans have serious economic and moral consequences for the community. For your reference, I am enclosing an economic impact study for Overland Park, Kansas. Although the community is larger than yours, you can see the detrimental impacts the community’s breed restrictions had. For this reason, I am also copying Benton Development Group Executive Director, Kate Robertson.

Also CCed in this email are two representatives from the Cedar Valley Humane Society: Executive Director Lonnie Viner and Director of Operations Amanda Knefley. The Cedar Valley Humane Society is the current animal control provider for Benton County. The Cedar Valley Humane Society also opposed breed-specific legislation and supports breed-neutral dangerous animal codes, as do animal shelters and rescues serving virtually the entire state.

Today I ask two things:

  1. Please suspend enforcement of this code to allow for more discussion between us, affected citizens, and the leaders and citizens of your communities – more opportunities to learn about effective public policy as it relates to local animal law.
  2. Let’s schedule a meeting where hopefully we can all discuss the issues at hand – I would be happy to schedule a meeting in person in Benton County so that all of us, as well as other Benton County residents, can learn from each other about the problems that their policies seek to solve. I believe we can work together to write and enact strong local codes that will allow your communities to retain or even strengthen their authority to protect their residents while respecting and protecting the rights of their citizens to own the dog of their choice.

Given the urgent timing of this situation, I can be available anytime this week or next weekend to discuss this with you. I am based out of a home office in Cedar Rapids, IA and would be happy to meet you as soon as possible.

Thanks for your time.


Preston MooreIowa State Director, State Affairs

(Mr. Moore can be reached at

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