ELMA, Iowa (FOX 47)-- With a little more than 500 residents, the tiny town of Elma bills itself as a community of re-birth and endless growth, where many businesses, organizations, and families call home.
So, when a 2011 city ordinance banned one crucial member of many families across the area, some residents were outraged.
"It's how you raise a dog. They aren't bad. When you are raised with violence, you respond with violence," said Pamela Six, an Elma resident who owns a female pit bull named Gabby.
So-called "bully" dog breeds were barred from Elma in 2011 and the ban that extends to any animal with the appearance or characteristics resembling a pit bull, doberman, or rottweiler.
"We aren't saying that all pit bulls result in being vicious, but we don't want to run the risk," said Elma City Attorney Kevin Schoeberl.
The penalty for unlawfully owning one of these animals? Fines up to $625 dollars and up to 30 days in jail.
It's an ordinance city officials insist is meant to protect citizens.
"I am not going to want to answer a call from a parent whose child is dead or mauled, so there is a purpose behind the law," said Schoeberl.
The issue is not just limited to Elma, as more than 80 towns across the state of Iowa have enacted dog bans, prompted by a string of widely covered attacks on humans.
In the nearby-city of Waterloo, there were reports of three pit bull attacks over the course of one week in 2013, but many people don't understand that pit bulls aren't actually a breed of dog at all.
The word "pit bull" is just a generic term to describe a variety of dog breeds.
"People in the news will say there has been a pit bull attack, but they might have really misidentified the dog. It's really easy to mistake one," said Lindsey Polin, who has fostered many pit bulls over the years.
Polin said the misconceptions about the dogs run deep.
"They aren't a breed. It's just a term and that's why people get confused," said Polin.
Polin believes that another party should be held responsible if a pit bull does become violent.
"The real problem would be the owners. That's what needs to be targeted," said Polin.
The pit bull ban in Elma does not apply to those who owned the dogs prior to when the ban was enacted in 2011.
In order to keep the dog within the city limits, the owners must carry a $300,000 liability insurance policy on the dog.
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