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« How not to write a dog bite ordinance -- a look at Omaha | Main | Wallace the pit bull unable to defend world title »

October 01, 2008



I have to dsagree with the ease of enforcing a 15-minute tethering period. It's crazy. I suppose they will have to rely on neighbours ratting out their neighbours and calling AC.

I see this as a nightmare. I'd rather see something about not tethering dogs unattended, ie, when the owner is not in the house or on the property. I'd actually like to see something similar for yard dogs who are left alone while the owners are away but are behind fences rather than tied.

However, given my distrust of any new regulations, I'd say that it would be better to beef up the rules about maintenance - adequate food, water, shelter, grooming, etc and if necessary go after neglectful owners that way.


hum.....a yellow vest huh.....
why not the yellow star.....shades of past history.....and not a good one.

As to the tethering....that in and of itself is not the is leaving the dog there with no interaction, no socialization, nothing....they are no longer then "family dogs"......and as such as you point out a disaster waiting to happen......

What ever happened to the simple thing of just enforcing leash laws?


Good write-up.

Tethering laws are unenforceable. In California, most ac agencies will not enforce the state's anti-tethering law. I support anti-tethering sentiments; prolonged chaining is bad for the dog. Creating an unenforceable system legislatively does not help. And fifteen minutes - one hour? That's ridiculous. Chaining laws need to take into consideration long-term, prolonged chaining, not someone w/o a fence who wants to let their tethered dog chill in sun spots for a couple hours (being unprotected from loose dog and evil people hazards is a fair concern).

Unless the ac agency has the money, resources and staff to check-in on people who have had their "ownership" rights revoked, this is just another unenforceable law. I like it, though, and I hope that some methodology is in place to actually enforce it.

The breed specific portion of the law is silly, at best.

While 500% sounds like a lot, I'd be a little worried by anyone who couldn't afford a yearly licensing fee of $20-50. That's $2-4 bucks a month. Again, it's another enforcement issue and I really wish ac agencies would find creative ways to get money w/o relying on licensing fees (which I personally think are a little silly and not reflective of "good guardianship").

They are going to have a heck of a time holding people to these set of laws, let alone affording any litigation costs associated with people who think a fine for 18 minutes of tethering is a little extreme (granted, I doubt any ac officer is going to enforce a violation for 18-minutes of tethering).



The tethering part failed because someone forgot the dog behavior part of the equation of why prolonged tethering is bad for the dogs in the first place. The tethering, in and of itself, is not really the bad part. It's the inherant lack of exercise/socialization that comes with it -- and the reality that in many of these cases the dogs are just left to fend for themselves from all kinds of elements.

I, like caveat, prefer the allowing of supervised tethering, but not the unsupervised kind.

Here's the thing about the licensing. $20-$50 doesn't sound like a lot - -but my bigger question is, what do the people who pay get out of that? More rules and regulations? More hassels? It's one thing if you're paying in for basic services, but you're not even getting those.

The biggest benefit to licensing is getting the dogs back to the owner once they get into your system. It saves a wealth of sheltering/euthanasia costs if you can just get the dog back home. However, if you increase the fine structure to the point where someone doesn't want to be found - -you've really made your problem worse, not better.


TEH, I had the same thought, and I bet you could find some cool Nazi yellow stars on ebay.

Rinalia: you can bet that the 15 minute tethering rule WILL be used by neighbors who have disputes about something else. And ACO CAN and WILL use it to go after people for whatever arbitrary reason they choose.

Are there any restaurants in Omaha that allow dogs on their outside patios? A sit-down protest might be an interesting event...


The tethering part is...there will be no tethering in excess of 15 mins without the supervision of "owner, custodian or person responsible for the animal, nineteen years of age or older, is present in the same yard in which the animal is tethered." So it is targeted to deal with unsupervised tethering.

As for the licensing fees...For an altered dog the fee is currently $15 (not $5) and will be going up to $20 in 2009 and then $25 in 2010. So if I'm not mistaken that would not be a 500% increase.

Brent you state also...
"If you have an unaltered dog that gets loose and gets impounded, the fee is $300 on the first offense --- $600 on the second impoundment within 24 months. $1200 for the 3rd impoundment."

This was raised so high for the simple reason that unaltered dogs can make babies. Should the dog get loose there is that risk. If the fines are increased the hope is, maybe people will keep better care of there dogs as to not have them getting out making more strays.



My bad on the licensing fees. I misread it based on how the World Herald wrote it, but you are right. My bad - -I didn't intend to mislead.

Here's the one thing I caution on licensing fees.Because it wouldn't be an effective use of time for animal control to go door to door to check on whether or not dogs are licensed, licensing is basically done on the honor system. Sure you can incent people to do it, but at the end of the day, it's almost completely voluntary on compliance. Places like Calgary have been able to get by with higher licensing fees because they offer a good amount of service for the fees -- free rides home to loose dogs, vet care in your dog needs it in the facility, etc. Without offering those types of services -- but raising fees to a high amount, usually only causes compliance to go down. The best thing about compliance is that it makes it easier to find the dog's owners so you can get the dog out of the shelter and back home. Lower licensing compliance means fewer dogs get back home.

I understand why the fines were raised for unaltered dogs - -but $300 or $600? Don't you think that $300 for Fido slipping through a hole in the fence is a bit extreme? I'm all about letting the punishment fit the crime, and having your dog get loose (which has happened to almost every dog owner out there a time or two) and getting wacked for $300 is pretty outragious. And here's the problem.

What happens when the person can't pay such a steep fine? Does the person get the dog back anyway? Or does the dog end up in the already over-crowded shelter system where it will be euthanized or will take up space where another dog will have to be euthanized? How long will NHS have to hold the dog to wait for someone to come up with the $300? I would expect that only about 1/2 the population of Omaha has the ability to come up with $300 in a normal 5 day waiting period. So do the dogs just die?

I undertand wanting to incent people to spay/neuter. I don't mind reasonable differences in licensing fees and fine structures. But $300 and $600 is just crazy. That's not an incentivizing fine -- that's a fine designed to punish people for not altering their dog. And in thos situations, the most likely one punished ends up being the dog.


Excellent write up! As an American Bulldog owner in Omaha I can't figure out how they managed to suddenly throw the breed under the ordinance. I was able to obtain Omaha dog bite stats that rank bite numbers by severity of the bite. Other than Pit Bulls the breeds with the highest numbers of severe bites aren't even included in this ordinance. I watched the news coverage of the debate on this issue all summer, and didn't have a chance to join in the discussion as American Bulldogs were thrown in at the last minute as an after thought. In my opinion American Bulldogs were added because the Nebraska Humane Society doesn't want to respond to calls from concerned citizens mistaking this breed for Pit Bulls. I researched American Bulldogs before getting one to make sure I wouldn't have to worry about any aggression issues. I have gone out of my way to introduce my dog to my neighbors and have socialized him as much as possible. He in no way shape or form has ever demonstrated any type of aggressive behavior. I support restrictions on Pit Bulls and the other large breeds with Terrier heritage. I also support restrictions on any dog that shows signs of aggression. Lumping in American Bulldogs because they resemble a dangerous breed doesn't make any sense. I hate the position this decision has left me in. It makes my argument sound like just another crazy dog owner, when in fact common sense and the data support my position. I have tried to contact the mayor and my city councilman via email and have so far received no response. If any of you have any ideas for contesting this decision, if you disagree with my understanding of American Bulldogs being a Mastiff descendant and therefore having no business on this list, or if you would like me to send you the bite statistics for Omaha over the last five years please contact me at [email protected]


Dude, NO DOG deserves a place on that list. You support 'pit bulls' being on it, do you? Terriers?

Think about that for a minute.

Your 'data' is likely inaccurate, since 'pit bull' isn't a breed but hey - once it hits home it suddenly matters, doesn't it?

We've been out here for years, trying to warn dog owners who think they are immune to this garbage. All of a sudden, they are targeted and they are Googling their fingers off looking for help.

Get together with dog owners who want to fight, then sue the city. Be prepared to do a lot of fundraising and spend all your spare time (and money) on the cause. Enjoy the blank stares and shoulder shrugs from people who don't get it, too, because your social life is about to hit the skids anyway.

Do that, or have a nice life - without any dog at all.


Sucks Joe when a dog gets restrictions put on it just because of the way it looks, doesn't it?

That's the whole point of all of these laws. That regardless what breed or breeds you'd choose, the dog is being declared aggressive based on how it looks, not on its actions. And the vast majority of the dogs that are affected will not be aggressive at all -- whether it's your American Bulldog or one of the ones with "Terrier" herritage.

That's why the responsiblitity is on ALL dog owners to help fight for the rights of ALL responsible dog owners to not have their dogs restrticted - -but only focus on the dogs and owners whose behavior and actions warrant it. Your story should be a lesson for everyone that they should get involved early - -because you and your dog are next.

As for any actions you can take. I do think you have a legitimate complaint of violation of the Nebraska open meetings act -- as nowhere in the agendas did they say they were ever going to talk about American Bulldogs. So could have a legitimate gripe and could get it thrown out with a little legal action. Or, you might be able to join the some of the owners of other breeds in an attempt to get this thrown out for all of them.

Meanwhile, I would expect that you would do a little more research on the other breeds so you can be a little more knowledgable about them in the future.

Re American Bulldog

That`s almost comical except of course the funny part wears off when they come to seize your dog and your kids are screaming "Why Daddy,tell us why"
Upset for their dog but still support restrictions on those 'pit bulls'.
I think some more dogs have to be thrown under the bus.
We`ve got the shock now we need the "awe"...that`s not right for ANY of them.

Re American Bulldog

Oh yeah maybe the 'pit bull' bite statistics were really for American Bulldogs.They`re easily mistaken you know.

This story went around the World.
Maybe you didn`t catch this retraction from PA
It was blamed on a pit bull,it was actually an American Bulldog.

[quote] Investigators said an American bulldog, not a pit bull as originally believed, mauled Rocco Doman Saturday.[/quote]

Maybe they`ve really been the problem all along.I say we start blaming everything on them.

Re American Bulldog

Oh oh Joe.
Look what I found.
Omaha may be using this to justify the restriction on your dog.
This is what they do.
They selectively pull statements off websites.
All I did was google American Bulldog to find that one.
And that`s from a reputable site.
Maybe they better stay on the list even though it was humans who exploited their great qualities.

[quote]The American Bulldog was originally used to wrangle cattle on the American frontier. He originated in the USA during the 1700's and was also used as a guard and FIGHTING DOG.[/quote]


Folks I didn't mean to ruffle any feathers with my post. Maybe I misspoke. Let me rephrase. I wouldn't say I supported the dog ordinance but I didn't really care one way or the other about it until American Bulldogs were added. Yes I though I was safe so I didn't care one way or the other. Yes when it hits close to home I started to take notice. Short sighted of me maybe but no different than anyone else. Call me a hypocrite if you want but the bite data supports my position. There have been two American Bulldog bites in Omaha recorded since 2002. One was a "level 4" bite and the other was "level 5". These are defined as follows:

Level 4 Bites: Single bit holds and shakes; or single bite, leaves and bites again more than once; or multiple bites with jaws moving quickly.

Level 5 Bites: Level 4 bite resulting in mutilation or missing parts.

Completely ignored by this ordinance are the labs, chows, rottweilers, mastiffs, dobermans and German Shepards; all of which have more recorded level 4 & 5 bites in Omaha since 2002.
I realize that my arguments are old news to those of you that have been fighting this all summer or longer. Again I'm not looking to get anybody worked up. I did google my fingers off until I found this post, and I appreciate having the opportunity to voice my opinion, which is an opportunity by the way that I was not afforded by the Omaha city council. I appreciate any comments and I really am learning a lot from all of you.


I'm about five years in. Here are a few facts for you.

Fact is, these laws have nothing to do with preventing dog bites. Most of them have little to do with - wait for it - dogs.

There are no dangerous 'breeds'. There are no dogs that are innately dangerous as individuals, barring disease or disorder.

It's all BS, food for the masses. Dogs are the red herring they dangle so they can remove civil rights from non-offending citizens in broad bloody daylight.

Bite stats are BS. Media reports are BS. Most people can't identify even the top 10 most popular purebreds, let alone accurately describe a dog who has just bitten them. There are 3 - 5 breeds, over 24 lookalike purebreds and an unknown and large number of mutts which the morons think are 'pit bulls'.

Once you've got that, the rest of it kind of falls into place.

Seriously, you have to sue the city. And win. Get a good lawyer, don't go cheap, be prepared to work you asses off for as long as it takes.

As Katie says on her blog, 'Save the 'pit bulls', save the world'.


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