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Bellevue City Council considers muzzle ordinance

Bellevue City Council considers muzzle ordinance

Bully breed supporters came in droves to the Bellevue City Council meeting on May 18 and voiced their opposition to a proposed muzzle ordinance.

The ordinance, if approved, would require “bully breeds” of dogs to be leashed and muzzled when out in public. American Pitbull terriers, American Staffordshire terriers and Staffordshire bull terriers are all considered bully breeds.

After a Bellevue Ward 1 resident had to euthanize her dog following an incident involving a bully breed dog, Ward 1 City Council Representative Thomas Burns introduced the ordinance to try to prevent a similar occurrence from happening.

In the local incident, a resident was walking her dog on a leash and another resident was walking his pitbull on a leash until he lost control.

“She had a sheltie and what her sheltie did, as little dogs will do to bigger dogs, rolled over in submission and laid on its back,” Burns said.

By the time the pitbull’s owner got there, it was too late.

“She had to rush her dog to the vet and by that time they said she needed to go to the emergency animal hospital and by that time it was too late … her dog needed to be euthanized,” Burns said.

The pitbull was later euthanized and a Great Dane belonging to the pitbull owner involved in the incident has been turned in to be put down.

“That’s three dogs, Burns said. “Two people are losing beloved pets and I just think that this is a situation that should have been avoided,” Burns said.

Burns said the city values public safety.

“I think the expectation is that when we walk our pet down the street, we’re not going to be attacked or our child is going to be safe,” Burns said.

Under the ordinance, a dog owner could register their pet under the breed ambassador program to opt-out of the requirements.

Bellevue’s ordinance was modeled after Omaha’s breed-specific requirements.

Burns said he modeled the ordinance after Omaha’s to be consistent.

Several dog owners spoke up during the meeting’s public comment opportunity. Most comments came down to one thing: don’t punish the dog, but instead promote responsible ownership.

Bellevue Resident Bill O’Donnell and his wife, who uses a Rottweiler as a service animal, voiced their opposition to the proposed ordinance.

O’Donnell said he has owned Doberman Pinschers and Rottweilers since 1981 and has previously served as the president for the Doberman Pinscher Rescue of Nebraska.

He also used to show Dobermans in competitions.

“Certain breeds are singled out in this proposed ordinance,” O’Donnell said. “Now, that starts the city down a slippery slope of legislating what breeds are proper to have.”

He said dogs are products of their experience.

“Every dog has its own personality, just like people, we are products of the training and the parenting we got,” O’Donnell said.

According to the Nebraska Humane Society’s annual report for Bellevue, there were 125 total dog bites in 2020 for the city.

From the aforementioned report, out of the 125 dog bites, eight of the bites were from bully breeds.

Burns said after the meeting that he stands firm on his stance on the proposed muzzle ordinance.

“What happened to this resident shouldn’t have happened to anybody and it shouldn’t have happened to her,” Burns said.

He said if the city could take a more proactive approach then Bellevue residents could be a lot safer.

The proposed muzzle ordinance will be voted on at the June 1 City Council meeting at 6 p.m. at Bellevue City Hall, 1500 Wall St.

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