DES MOINES, Iowa - Christine Pardee is what you'd call a dog lover. And after two of her own, Gus and Bailey, were attacked by another pair of dogs during a walk, she sought to change the City of Des Moines' dog ordinance.
"The question is, why shouldn't all dog owners be held to the same standards based on an animals behavior," she said.
What Pardee is referring to is the city's vicious dog ordinance. Currently, three specific breeds are automatically deemed vicious: the American Pit Bull, the American Staffordshire Terrier, and the Staffordshire Bull Terrier. If you own one of these breeds - or a dog with part of that breed in its genetics - the city requires you obtain a license, vaccinate the dog, and take out a hefty insurance policy on it.
"Most people are not aware of this because they haven't lived it, and they just don't know about it," she said. "And so, absolutely, the biggest feeling that is coming forward is that people think this is unfair."
Pardee says the dogs who attacked hers were not your stereotypical 'vicious' ones; they were, in fact, small dogs. She says that's the major takeaway for dangerous animals - it's the owner, not the dog, that causes viciousness. Pardee says ending "Breed Specific Language" - or BSL - will allow the city to focus on real solutions for minimizing dog bites and attacks.
"Certain dogs are being held to have certain responsibilities and do things that others aren't, without a really strong justification of why," she said. "Legally, there's actually been an argument that it actually denies due process."
Pardee presented her concern to city council back in June. The council decided to form a task force to look into the matter - a task force Pardee was originally a key member of. However, after several weeks, she resigned.
"I got the impression that the task force wasn't working towards the task defined for it by the city council," she said. "And so I had concerns that it was actually working towards specific goals that the council requested."
For whatever reasons, Pardee says she doesn't feel the task force wants to see BSL ended in the city's ordinance. So she's started her own campaign to educate the public on the issue.
"People are surprised that this has been on the books for 30 years in Des Moines, and Des Moines is the only city in the Metro - now - that has breed discriminatory language in it's law," she said.
She's referring to the City of Altoona's recent decision to change its dog ordinance to include breed neutral language, leaving the City of Des Moines as the only city in the Metro still implementing breed specific language. As the city task force plans to offer its suggestions for changes in the ordinance to the council sometime in November, Pardee says her main goal is to continue raising support.
"Almost a month ago, the Facebook page maybe had 20 likes or something like that. And then now, we're almost up to 200," she said. "The petition, there's over 490 signatures."
Pardee plans to take the petition to the council next month, along with data she's gathering from a professional poll launching city-wide next week. It will ask residents of Des Moines their thoughts on breed-neutral language.
"My goal, is that there needs to be a very fair and impartial effort to try and get citizen input," she said. "And if it turns out that more citizens are opposed to this, then that's how it turns out...but so far, what we've seen, there's far more support to repeal BSL than there is to oppose it."
You can visit Pardee's campaign website here.