If you have listened to the news in Omaha, you are probably aware of the pet owners ordinance passed in 2008 that deals with the issues of tethering, reckless owners, dogs with unsafe behavior, and pitbull restrictions. These new ordinances require owners to leave their dogs tethered outside for no longer than fifteen minutes.
In addition to limiting the tethering time for you dog, the Nebraska Humane Society says, “dog owners need to keep their pets from barking, clean up after them, contain them to the yard, walk them on appropriate leashes, license them on time and make sure they don’t have too many pets.” If you violate any of these city laws on three different occasions within two years, you can be declared a Reckless Owner and will lose the right to keep your animals.
The new ordinance also requires owners of Pitbull, American Staffordshire Terrier, Staffordshire Bull Terrier, Dogo Argentina, Presa Canario, American Bulldog or Cane Corso dogs to have $100,000 liability insurance on their animal.
These new laws were put in place to put more responsibility on dog owners, to restrict dogs that may be a safety risk to the public, and to put more safeguards around supposedly dangerous dogs like pitbulls.
So, how is this legislation working to prevent dog bites?
In 2010 the Nebraska Humane Society found that 79 dog bites were from labs, 44 were from German shepherds, 42 from pit bulls and 33 were from Chihuahuas. It’s not that labs are more violent and aggressive, its just that there are more of them and one would expect to see more bites from a breed that is most popular; more dogs, more dog bites.
Mark Langan of the Nebraska Humane Society explained that, due to the 2008 legislation, “We’re seeing a dramatic decrease of pit bull bites from 115 in 2008 to 42 reported in 2010 which tells us people are taking the muzzle harness law very seriously.”
Thats all well and good that pitbull related bites have dropped so dramatically but news sources like KETV Channel 7 and KMTV Actions 3 News never reported on the total number of dog bites, which is a vital bit of information when putting these pitbull bite numbers into context.
Here are the years and number of dog bites from the city of Omaha:
2006, 916 dog bites.
2007, 821 dog bites
2008, 808 dog bites
(Omaha Dog ordinance takes place October 2008)
2009, 875 dog bites
2010, 913 dog bites
So while pitbull related dog bites were decreasing, dog bites from other breed were on the rise. There are probably variables beyond my knowledge as to why the number of dog bites increased between 2008 and 2010 while the new legislation was in effect.
One such variable that would be important to know is the number of registered dogs in Omaha from 2006 to 2010. If the number of dogs increased from 2006 to 2010, there is need for concern and a reevaluation of the new ordinance. However, if the number of bites go up when registered dogs in Omaha go up, and the number of bites go down when the number of registered dogs goes down, there may not be an issue.
From looking online, I haven’t had much luck when searching for this information. I think it’s hard to know exactly how many dogs are in Omaha since not all the dogs in Omaha are licensed. I have contacted the Humane Society to obtain the numbers for number of licensed dogs in Omaha from 2006 to 2010 but, they seem to be pretty busy since I haven’t received a call back. I’ll be sure to do an update when I receive the information.