BSL Alert: Blair, Nebraska (2nd &/or Final Vote)

A proposed breed specific ordinance before the Blair, Nebraska city council passed a first reading on October 26, 2010. The issue is back on the agenda for the November 9, 2010 city council meeting. According to the tentative meeting agenda, it is slated for its Second and/or FINAL reading next Tuesday night.

If you are in or near the Blair area, PLEASE make every effort to attend the council meeting held at the city council chambers, 218 S. 16th Street at 7:00 p.m.

Please continue to send your POLITE, RESPECTFUL and INFORMATIVE letters in opposition to breed specific legislation to the Blair officials listed below. Also included below are two articles related to this matter.

City Official Contact Information
James Realph, Mayor
2532 College Drive
Blair, Nebraska 68008
402-426-2474 (H)
402-426-4891 (W)

Chris Jensen, Ward 1
716 N. 11th Street
Blair, Nebraska 68008
402-426-8626 (H)

Ward 1

John Abbott, Ward 1
2040 Arbor Circle
Blair, Nebraska 68008
402-426-4968 (H)

Frank Wolff, Ward 2
654 Hillcrest Drive
Blair, Nebraska 68008
402-426-3568 (H)

Ward 2

Keith Christiansen, Ward 2 – Council President
935 Skyline Drive
Blair, Nebraska 68008
402-426-9701 (H)

Gary Fanoele, Ward 3
1523 Oak Drive
Blair, Nebraska 68008
402-426-2255 (H)

Ward 3

Hal Kephart, Ward 3
1103 E. Riverview Drive
Blair, Nebraska 68008
402-426-4326 (H)

Marty Shepard, Ward 4
2138 Park Street
Blair, Nebraska 68008
402-426-533-2739 (H)

Blair City Hall
218 South 16th Street
Blair, Nebraska 68008
Voice (402) 426-4191 Fax (402) 426-4195

City Hall Contact Form:

October 27, 2010

Residents question if new dog ordinance is strict enough

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.

Straube agreed that dogs be given one strike – taken away from their owners or destroyed after one attack.

Jim Keller, a pit bull owner, said he was glad the city was not trying to ban pit bulls and other breeds. He said pit bulls are “some of the nicest dogs you will ever want to meet if you get to know them.”

Councilman Hal Kephart said the proposed new law is based on laws in Omaha and Gretna. He said it appeared to be a better alternative than to ban pit bulls.

For the first time, cats would be included in the animal regulations and two people had questions about that and about pet limits.

The new proposal would limit households to four cats and Darrel Boesiger wondered what would happen to people who already might have more than four cats.

City administrator Rod Storm said if the new law were approved, the city would work with owners over a period of time to bring them into compliance.

Stewart said the goal of the new law was responsible pet ownership, for dogs and cats, both of which would be required to be licensed.

Cindi Heng also wondered if owners would have some initial leeway. The new law would limit owners to three dogs, three cats or a combination of four pets. Heng also said collars with tags on cats can be a potential danger to the cat.

The city council plans to consider the new pet regulations on first reading at its Oct. 26 meeting. By law, the ordinance must be approved at three different meetings, unless that rule is waived by the council.

August 10, 2010

Blair considers pit bull law
By Kevin Cole

An attack on a Labrador retriever by two pit bulls is prompting Blair officials to look at enacting an ordinance aimed at dangerous dogs.

Bill and Jane Straube of Blair are to speak about the need for the ordinance at Tuesday night’s City Council meeting. The Straubes’ dog, Sophie, was the victim of an attack by a pair of pit bulls on July 21 while in the family’s yard.

“It could have been disastrous,” Jane Straube said Monday. “Our 9-year-old son could have been out in the front yard. I got bit on the toe trying to pull (the pit bulls) off.”

The dog required numerous stitches but survived the attack. The pit bulls are being held at the Blair Animal Shelter.

Jane Straube said one of the pit bulls, which lived across the street, had been identified as a dangerous animal in 2007 after it chased some neighbors.

City Administrator Rod Storm said the current Blair dog ordinance gives a dog two strikes before it can be destroyed.

Jane Straube and her husband intend to ask the City Council to allow a dog to be destroyed after one unprovoked attack.

“We want them to toughen up the law, because right now two chances is one too many,” Jane Straube said. “This attack could have been much worse, and it was very traumatic for our family.”

Storm said his office is gathering information from several communities about their dog ordinances to present to the council.

“We were approached by one of the council members in the wake of the attack (upon the Straubes’ dog) and asked to come up with a stronger ordinance,” Storm said. “We’re working to give the council a complete picture so they can make their decision.”

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