Pet lovers in La Vista rejoice: Residents can now own up to three dogs in the city.
The La Vista City Council increased the city's cap Tuesday after one couple petitioned them to increase the number of dogs allowed in each household from two to three.
Brenda McBride and Boyce Brown came before the council in June, distraught. McBride, who already had two Chihuahuas, had given a West Highland white terrier puppy to her boyfriend Brown as a gift.
Beforehand, she checked with the city and was granted permission to obtain a third dog before adopting the puppy. Several weeks later, she received a complaint and a citation declaring she was in violation of city code. Their new puppy had to go.
“We did our due diligence and checked with the code enforcement officer as to could we be given another dog and we got the OK,” McBride told council last month.
The city code allowed a maximum of four pets per household, with a cap of two dogs, two cats and, somewhat controversially, two rabbits. McBride and Brown said the wording was confusing — the code mentions both pets per household and pets per resident — and asked council to reconsider.
Mark Langan, vice president of field operations for the Nebraska Humane Society, appeared before council in June and said he had no problems with increasing the number of dogs per household to three.
Municipal ordinances across Douglas and Sarpy Counties vary. Omaha allows up to three dogs and five cats, and residents can apply for a permit to own a maximum of five dogs. Papillion allows four adult animals, either cats or dogs, Sarpy County allows four dogs and unlimited cats, and Ralston allows three animals total, with a maximum of two per species.
“We do not have an increase in calls to addresses that have three dogs more than homes that have one or two,” Langan said. “The number three is not a magic number that makes us get more calls about barking dogs. People that have three dogs actually seem to take care of their dogs better than owners that have one.”
The Humane Society responds to 10,000 calls a year in Sarpy County and 30,000 in Omaha.
Council members agreed that the wording in the ordinance was problematic.
“Part of the confusion is the actual way it's worded,” Councilman Kim Thomas said. “It talks about per person or per residential dwelling. I think that needs to be cleared up.”
Other council members talked about striking rabbits from the list. The code included rabbits in the '80s at the behest of a councilman who owned several.
Mayor Doug Kindig balked.
“You better think about it,” he warned. “Those are stinky creatures, you start letting someone have eight or 10 of them in a yard.”
The revised portion of the city code now allows up to four pets total in each residence, with a maximum of either three cats or three dogs. Rabbits will be addressed later in a zoning change.
The amendment passed unanimously.