For anyone who caught me on Pit Bulletin Legal News Radio, here is the link to the information on the 2012 fatalities, as well as links to similar data from Don's organization, the NCRC and Jim's info as well.
Under an Omaha law passed in 2008, dogs can be declared "potentially dangerous" if they bite someone, or, if they are one of 9 different breeds of dogs declared "potentially dangerous" under Omaha law. Once declared "potentially dangerous" the dog must be altered, microchipped and muzzled and licensed whenever they're out in public. They also must be licensed for $100 year and the dog owner has to take out a $100,000 insurance policy on the dog.
Biting dogs remain on the list for 2 years (the breeds of dogs forever), and if the dog has no other violations, they can come off the list if the owner pays another $200 to the city.
This isn't the first time Omaha has had to tweak its overly broad, and overly harsh, dangerous dog ordinance. The ordinance was originally passed in 2008 following a major dog attack in the community. It was passed as an act of panic policy making after the tragic attack and the city ignored all canine experts and passed an overly broad, overly taxing law targeting all dog owners and even more specifically targeting owners of certain breeds of dogs. Previously, the council had reduced fines for dogs running at large from $300 to $100 because they realized it was causing some dog owners to not get their dogs from the shelter because they couldn't afford the high fees.
And it's good that the council continues to tweak the Dangerous Dog Ordinance -- because there are many other changes that need to be made to it -- which from the start was an over-reaching, costly, and bound-to-be-ineffective boondoggle.
According to the NHS VP of Field Operations Mark Langan, there are "hundreds" of "potentially dangerous" dogs in the city of Omaha. While many of these are potentially dangerous because of their bite history, a large number are on the list only based on their appearance because of the breed-specific clause in the law-- creating a huge issue of cost of enforcement, aribtrary breed determinations, and cost to dog owners in the city.
The ordinance has been a huge boon for the Nebraska Humane Society. Based on the NHS contract with the city, NHS receives 100% of the impound and licensing fees -- so the high numbers of citations and 'potentially dangerous dogs" is very financially rewarding for them. NHS also received a substantial increase if fees from the city of Omaha for enforcing the new ordinance (they received an annual increase of about $75,000 a year after the ordinance passed).
Meanwhile, the law itself, is not having a positive impact public safety in Omaha. While this was something that anyone could have easily forecasted 4 years ago when their new law was passed, the numbers have completely proved this out.
Here are the dog bite numbers in Omaha since 2006:
2006 - 916
2007 - 821
2008 - 808 (note, the new ordinance declaring 9 breeds of dogs "dangerous" passed in mid 2008). In June of 2008, the city was on pace to be 14% below their 2007 numbers, but in the back half of the year (after the ordinance passed), had 41 more dog bites than the year prior and ended with only a minor decrease for the year).
2009 - 875
2010 - 913
2011 - 834
So, in spite of the city paying more money for law enforcement, and in spite of the increased revenue received via high fines, high citations, and high licensing fees, the city has yet to have lower dog bites than the years prior to passing the ordinance. So increased cost, decreased public safety. Bravo.
Meanwhile, it's worth mentioning that in earlier reports, the top biting breeds of dogs in Omaha have traditionally been Labrador Retrievers and German Shepherds -- neither of which is targeted by the breed-specific part of the city's ordinance. "Pit Bulls", which were targeted by the law, made up only about 14% of total dog bites. And while Langan and the rest of the NHS crew has said the ordinance was a success because 'pit bull' bites have gone down, their continued focus on 'pit bull' type dogs has allowed bites by all other non-restricted breeds to increase significantly.
The entire ordinance continues to be poorly thought-out, ineffective, and costly -- both to taxpayers and to dog owners. However, it has also been a financial boom for NHS -- who continues to reap financial rewards for the ordinance in spite of its ineffectiveness. It is time for Omaha to repeal the breed-specific part of its ordinance -- for the betterment of dog owners and for the betterment of public safety.
There is a lot of news in Kansas City and the surrounding area right now. As such, there are a couple of stories that I think are important to share.
Pin Ups for Pit Bulls Midwest Carnival
Over the weekend was a great event with the folks from Pin Ups for Pit Bulls, along with Shorty Rossi, were in town over the weekend to raise awareness for 'pit bull' type dogs and to raise some money for local rescues.
This was an extremely fun event -- and before hand, the great folks over at Paw Prints had a great interview with both Shorty and Little Darling to get some insight behind the TV show the Pit Boss and behind the efforts from Pin Ups for Pit Bulls.
It sounds like The Pit Boss is going to be airing a show from Denver soon which will expose many of Denver's problems as it relates to the city's breed ban.
Animal Haven and No More Homeless Pets form Merger
Two local animal welfare organizations have officially formed a merger as Animal Haven - -the city's largest no kill animal shelter, and No More Homeless Pets KC -- on of the two largest low-cost spay neuter clinics, have officially formed a merger to form the Heartland SPCA.
I really don't have a lot of commentary about what this may or may not mean in Kansas City animal welfare. Both organizations have been working very closely together for many years and this just solidifies their partnership. I think the name is problematic (I still think most causal observers will think this is an off-shoot of the ASPCA) -- however, I do think the two groups (both very good organizations) can merge their power for positive change for the animals in the metro area.
More to come on this, no doubt, but this is pretty big news in the metro this week (even though it may have been the worst kept secret ever).
Missouri Dedicates $$ for crack down on Puppy Mills
Earlier this week, Governor Jay Nixion held a press conference at the Humane Society of Missouri that announced that the state has officially dedicated $1.1 million for more state field inspectors, veterinarians and enforcement agents in order to crack down on poorly run commercial breeders in the state.
This promise was part of the Governor's compromise that eliminated parts of voter-approved proposition B, but also added several key enforcement measures including this money for more enforcement and some increased power for the state Attorney General to close down repeated violators of state laws (which has already led to the closing of two breeding operations). This is particularly notable at a time when the state was facing a $704 million budget deficit, even before the state had to set aside $50 million to help the city of Joplin recover from a massive tornado that hit last month, and as the state is dealing with major flood damage that will also take millions of dollars of state funds to rebuild levies and repair damages.
So the state continuing to increase funding for shutting down poorly-run breeding operations in spite of these budget shortfalls is HUGE.
And yet, Wayne Pacelle of HSUS still found room to criticize. Pacelle criticizes the money because he doesn't think it should have come in conjunction with the changes to Prop B. While Pacelle mentioned at one point recognizing the need to compromise on Prop B, he apparently doesn't realize that compromise involves both parties giving in on certain things. Maybe this is why the compromise was among local animal welfare groups and HSUS wasn't invited to the table.
While everyone should be celebrating the increased enforcement resources (which was everyone's #1 need in solving the state's 'puppy mill crisis') at a time of significant financial strain on the state, leave it to HSUS to be the critic (of course, the news comes at a time when Wayne Pacelle was on his book tour and was in St. Louis last night promoting his book, and Kansas City tonight). It should also be noted that the state's $1.1 million toward enforcement -- which is very good news, is less than 1/3 of the money HSUS spent trying to pass Proposition B.
Next week is National Dog Bite Prevention Week. Next week you will no doubt see a lot of information about dog bites -- some intended to help, some intended to scare the hell out of you so you buy something.
I really do appreciate those that are sending info out to help people prevent dog bites (in a positive way).
I've mentioned it here on numerous occassions -- but dogs are incredibly safe parts of our daily lives. However, with 78 million+ owned dogs in this country, nearly all with sharp teeth, inevitably some incidents occur.
Most major incidents involve small children. And I'm always greatful when the group Dogs & Storks comes out with information that helps new parents to successfully, and safely, integrate dogs and young children together.
Tonight at 9 pm EST, Animal Cafe will be hosting a live chat with Jen Shyrock, the founder of Dogs & Storks. You can read more about the Dogs & Storks program over at Animal Cafe -- including a 26 minute Podcast with Jen -- and then ask her any questions you might have during tonight's live Chat.
If we can help parents to overcome the transition of integrating dogs and children together (which is fairly easy, but doesn't just happen on its own), we can make a dramatic positive impact on the number of children who are serious injured by dogs in this country. Also, dogs not getting along with new babies is a leading cause of dogs being relinquished by owners to the shelter. Both of these issues are inherently fixable. And fixing it would be very cool. No fear. No doomsday. Just a little work and education.
Proponent testimony for Ohio's HB 14 will be heard a 9 am on Wednesday, February 9th, in Room 114 of the State House.
HB 14 is a bill sponsored by Barbara Sears that would eliminate any reference to specific breeds from Ohio's dangerous dog statutes. Ohio is the only state to have any form of breed-specific language (14 states actually have laws that forbid breed-specific laws).
A similar bill passed the House of Representatives last fall, but stalled out in the Senate at the end of 2010. The bill has been assigned to the Criminal Justice Committee and needs a strong showing of canine advocates to come out in support of the bill on Wednesday. If you cannot make the meeting Wednesday, please contact your state representative and tell them you support the bill as written.
If you need more info -- please contact the Ohio Coalition of Dog Advocates for details...they're a great organization that is on top of this charge to change this wrong-headed state law.
On Saturday night, Roo and Wallace made a guest appearance on Animal Planet's "It's Me or the Dog" -- the topic was about playing with your high-energy dog and building a relationship of trust with your dog.
It's a great clip - -only a few minutes long - and more good PR for bully-type dogs that are what we make of them.
On April 30, No Kill Houston will be hosting a No Kill workshop featuring Nathan Winograd. The workshop will contain information about how to increase adoptions and effectively manage a high-volume adoption facility, shelter leadership and how to save more shelter animals.
The workshop is being hosted by No Kill Houston, the No Kill Advocacy Center, Friends for Life, Spay/Houston, Alvin Friendswood Vet Clinic, American Dog Magazine, Pet Studio and No Kill Nation -- and further sponsored by Animal Wise Radio, Pets & People Alliance, Texas Dogs & Cats Magazine, Urban Paws Magazine, Homeless and Orphaned Pets Endeavor, Operation Pets Alive and Pup Scouts -- and impressive list.
The Workshop will be hosted at South Texas College of Law in the Joe Green Auditorium from 8 am to 6 pm. More info at No Kill Houston and tickets are available at No Kill Houston's Website.
This is a great opportunity for anyone in the South Texas area (or a cheap flight away) to learn more about how to make their community No Kill through programs that are proven to work.
Set your DVRs
Tomorrow night, 1/29, World Champion Disc Dog Wallace (pictured) will make a guest appearance on the Animal Planet Show: It's Me or the Dog, featuring trainer Victoria Stillwell.
The show will air at 8pm EST (7 pm CST) on Saturday night and will be more great airtime for a dog that continues to show the world what most owners have known for a long - that they can be, and are, great dogs.
Congrats to Wallace and set your DVRs. I'm had the pleasure of meeting Wallace at KC Dog Advocate's Canine Legislation Conference back in 2006 and am thrilled to see him on the show.
The journalist, William Brangham, is following up on the dogs and will be interviewing several of the owners of the dogs, as well as folks from the ASPCA, Bad Rap, and Jim Gorant -- author of the Lost Dogs.
Also, word is that there isn't going to be any of the gruesome stock footage that often accompanies these types of programs...which makes me happy.