Pups Go Muzzle Free

March 3, 2011  

Omaha removes muzzling restrictions for pit bull puppies

StubbyDog Staff Report

Rules for muzzling young pit bulls have been relaxed by the Omaha City Council.

Two years ago, the city council imposed a rule requiring all pit bulls to be muzzled, leashed and harnessed while in public unless the dog had passed an annual behavior test administered by the Nebraska Humane Society (NHS).

The rule was in response to a series of attacks that year by dogs with a pit bull appearance.

However, out of 5,000 level-three bites (which are the most common type of bite) in the past 10 years in Omaha, the NHS noted that only three were from puppies 6 months or younger.

The NHS also pointed out that puppies are prevented from socializing with other dogs and people when constricted by a harness or muzzle – which is counter-productive to having them grow into well-behaved canine citizens.

“The threat that the animal causes when they’re that age is almost minute,” said Councilman Tom Mulligan, who co-sponsored the proposals with Councilman Ben Gray on behalf of the Humane Society.

Pam Wiese, spokesperson for the Nebraska Humane Society, said that the current rule also poses a financial issue for pit bull owners.

“To get a muzzle to fit a pit bull puppy, you would have to buy at least three different muzzle sizes,” she told the Omaha World-Herald. “That’s cost prohibitive. A lot of people aren’t doing it.”

Mulligan said each muzzle costs about $40.

According to the amended rule, only pit bulls over the age of 6 months are required to be muzzled. The city council voted to maintain other rules, including that pit bulls who are kept outdoors must be in a securely fenced yard, and their owners need at least $100,000 in liability insurance.

The rules also allow the NHS to declare menacing dogs of any breed “potentially dangerous” after investigating complaints.

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