Omaha Pet Proposal Nearing End Of Phase One

The mayor's committee appointed to look into the matter of a new pet ordinance for Omaha met again Monday to discuss its options.

Talk of a possible pit bull ban has created quite a stir following the attack on a 15-month-old girl in June. The city says it's time to do something to protect the public.

The committee is working on a proposal, whether that be to ban certain breeds of dogs or harsher punishments for owners if they harbor a dangerous animal or fail to keep their pet on a leash.

"He'll lick ‘em to death,” says June Smith. Shadow is part lab, part cocker spaniel, but now he's all hero.

"As we were walking back the next thing I know I've got this pit bull coming right at me and Shadow jumped in front and got the brunt of it," says Smith, who says she was walking her dog Sunday evening at South 8th Street and 2nd Avenue in Council Bluffs when what she thought was a pit bull came charging.

"I started screaming and it was like I was screaming forever. I kept hollering, help somebody, help."

Council Bluffs Animal Control says the dog that attacked was not a pit bull, but an American bulldog, still part of the so-called “bully breeds."

"I thought he was gonna kill Shadow,” says Smith. “He was going for his neck and just was on top of him and I thought I was never gonna see my dog again."

In Council Bluffs, a pit bull ban has been in effect since 2005 so this brings up the question, if Omaha creates a similar ban will we really stop dog attacks from happening?

"We want to do everything we can to increase public safety across the city as it relates to any dog bite incident,” says Don Thorson, Omaha Mayor Mike Fahey’s deputy chief of staff.

A committee made up of Omaha City Council and Humane Society representatives, along with police and the mayor's office, is working to create an ordinance. "We’re working on it,” says Omaha City Councilman Garry Gernandt. “There'll be something soon."

"I think the emphasis has really been public safety and how do we protect the citizens of Omaha in a rational, reasonable method and I think the package that we're going to present is extremely comprehensive," notes Nebraska Humane Society president Judy Varner.

The committee has looked at other cities' bans and hopes to create what will be best for Omaha. "I think this is going to be one of the most comprehensive in the country," says Varner.

The committee has not said if the ordinance will ban a specific breed or includes all so-called dangerous dogs. It hopes to have a proposal for the City Council by August 26th.

“They're going to review it, what we come up with and they're going to hash it out,” says Thorson. “There will be a public hearing and at the end of the day we're going to have a good ordinance."

Smith hopes that in time it will prevent other tragedies from happening. "What if that had been a child that was walking to school or home from school or whatever, there's already been enough attacks around here."

Council Bluffs' ban keeps any new pit bulls from coming into the city. Owners who had their pets before 2005 have been able to keep them, but they must re-license them every year.

Council Bluffs has not had any pit bull bites so far this year and total dog bites are also down.

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