Blair, Nebraska “Pit Bull” Law Passes First Reading; Ready for a Second
Editor’s note: Here again we have the media referring to attacking dogs in the incident involving the Straubes’ dogs as “pit bulls” when there is no such breed (and it doesn’t sound like the attack from the Border Collies was mentioned in the media at all before now). Also you will note that the dogs that attacked the Straubes’ dog were causing a problem before this incident occurred which is not unusual in attacks from free-roaming dogs. The main component in a free-roaming dog attack is not the breed, but rather the fact that the dog(s) is/are free-roaming, reverting to their pack mentality which can include territoriality.
The breed-specific ordinance that Blair now proposes will not stop irresponsible owners from allowing their dogs to free-roam. Irresponsible owners typically ignore these types of laws, or simply switch breeds. All dogs should be in a securely-fenced yard or on a leash when off their owner’s property. That’s just common sense and it’s common sense that should be applied by law to all dog owners regardless of the breed of dog they own. A non-breed-specific dangerous dog (owner) law which escalates fines and penalties per each offense would also go a long way in deterrence.
Please send your polite letters opposing breed-specific legislation because it is ineffective, unenforceable, and unconstitutional to the Blair, Nebraska Mayor and City Council here before the next reading of this ordinance on November 9, 2010.
From the Pilot-Tribune & Enterprise*:
Several local residents questioned the effectiveness of new dangerous dog regulations in Blair during a public hearing about the proposed rules at the City Council meeting on Tuesday.
Jane Straube, who initiated the request for tougher dog laws after her dog was attacked by two pit pulls from a neighbor’s house in July, asked the council what the difference would have been in her family’s case had the new law been in effect in July.
Straube and her husband, Bill, had asked the city to consider banning pit bulls in town. The proposed new ordinance requires that pit bulls and similar breeds be kept in a securely fenced yard or be on a leash and muzzled if they are outside the fence, but does not ban them.
Straube wondered if the new law would have helped prevent the attack on her dog.
Patti Plugge told the council her dog was attacked Saturday morning by two border collies at Black Elk/Neihardt Park. She said it was “lucky I can kick hard,” and that someone heard the screams and came to help.
Plugge said it was not the first time the two dogs had attacked another dog. She said she filed a report with the police and the other person whose dog was attacked had filed a report. She said she was told one of the dogs would be destroyed, but the other one was not deemed aggressive.
Plugge wondered why and who deems dogs to be aggressive.
Council members said the proposed new law would give police officers more discretion about dangerous dogs and would put more responsibilitiy on owners, leaving them subject to court appearances and fines, being forced to take classes on responsible pet ownership and even banning them from pet ownership for up to four years if they are deemed “reckless owners.”
Councilman Jon Stewart said the proposal is not perfect, but he hoped it would be an improvement for both police and residents.
Lt. Aaron Barrow of the Blair Police said a new records system would generate a report that would include the owners’ name, whether the dog was licensed and any legal history of the dog and owner.
If the new law were in effect, Councilman Hal Kephart said, the owners of the dogs that attacked the Plugge dog would have been subject to a Class A misdemeanor along with having the dogs impounded (which the owner would have to pay for).
Ken Stier, a neighbor who helped the Straubes fend off the dogs that attacked their dog, wondered if allowing dogs “two strikes” before they are impounded or destroyed would be a good idea.
He said the new law would not have prevented the attack on the Straubes’ dog. One of the dogs previously had been identified as dangerous.
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*Special thanks to BSL Updates for this alert.