Big Dog Fight Pits Neighbor Against Neighbor Against City

Imagine a dog that weighs 180 pounds. A Plattsmouth area couple has three mastiffs and they want more, which has raised big concerns with neighbors.

A scary bark, but Tom and Barb Harter have a deep love for their three mastiffs. “So happy, they're always happy dogs,” says Tom.

A neighbor who also happens to a veterinarian says she's seen a different side to these show dogs. “I was terrified, I thought I was going to lose my dog,” says Dr. Karen Campbell.

Three times this year the mastiffs have escaped from the acreage. They didn't attack, but confronted Dr. Campbell and her dog. Retreating to her porch, she kept the big dogs at bay. “I had the broom there. They stayed at the bottom while I stood there. I was shaking so bad.”

“They didn't attack her, no one was hurt,” says Tom. “I think they were trying to play with her dog.” The Harters are doing more to secure the dogs, from invisible fencing to cameras. The Harters have a building permit to build what they describe as a massive doghouse for their mastiffs, but they also need a city permit just to keep more than two dogs.

“My fear is that this would not be the last time that either a person or a pet will be put in peril,” says Dr. Campbell.

The Harters moved into a wooded neighborhood outside of Plattsmouth last year not knowing city rules apply. “I can have five horses without a permit, but I can't have more than two dogs without one,” says Tom. “It doesn't make sense.”

They have five dogs altogether and need a permit or must find new homes for three. “Then we're going to have to make that hard choice of which three do we get rid of,” says Barb.

“The safety issue I think overcomes all the other issues,” says Dr. Campbell.

When the Plattsmouth City Council takes up the permit, emotions on both sides won't be penned up. The Harters also want a hobby breeder’s permit that would allow them one litter a year to sell. The City Council will take up the issue Monday night.

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