Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Nebraska: Robert Nowak wants Arlington to let his banned pit bulls stay

NEBRASKA -- An Arlington resident pleaded before the Village Board of Trustees on Monday to keep his pit bull, which is banned under a village ordinance.

Robert Nowak received a letter from the village informing him of the ban after a 10-year-old boy was bit by another pit bull in August. A resident was concerned that Nowak also owned a pit bull.

The village ordinance states it is unlawful for residents to keep, shelter or harbor any animal exhibiting pit bull or wolf-hybrid characteristics.

The village also has an ordinance that dogs exhibiting doberman or rottweiler characteristics must be restrained and muzzled while off the owner's property.

Nowak, who moved to Arlington from Florida about a year ago, confirmed he owns three dogs: a full-blooded pit bull, a Staffordshire pit bull terrier-American bulldog mix and an American Bulldog-mastiff mix.

He said he was unaware of the ordinances prior to receiving the letter and a visit from a sheriff's deputy.

Nowak claimed he had checked with Rohrig Animal Hospital in Arlington to see what he needed to have his dogs in the village.

“They told me I needed muzzles,” he said.

Jen Bruning, assistant manager of the veterinary clinic, denied Nowak's claims.

“We never once told him it was OK,” Bruning said on Tuesday. “We wouldn't misinform our clients.”

Nowak asked board members if they would consider changing the ordinance.

“My dogs mean a lot to me. They're a part of our family. They've been with us a long time,” Nowak said. “I just want to keep my dog. I'll do whatever you ask me to do to secure them.”

Nowak said he had priced a $1 million insurance policy and was willing to obtain such a policy.

“I'll pay for that,” he said. “They're a part of our family.”

Nowak said his dogs are not aggressive.

“Unfortunately, our ordinance is any dog exhibiting pit bull or wolf-hybrid characteristics (is prohibited),” board member Jason Wiese said. “It's not whether they're nice or not.”

Board Chairman Paul Krause said it would be impossible to guarantee that the pit bull wouldn't get out and it wouldn't bite someone.

“I do feel your pain that you have a family pet that is not allowed in town,” Krause said. “I just don't see that there's any reason to change our ordinance or make an exception. If we hadn't had someone just get bit, maybe there would be a different sentiment.

“We're not trying to single you out. We're just trying to enforce the laws that we have,” Krause said.

Krause, however, said the board would be willing to help Nowak and his family find someone outside of the village to take his dog.

Nowak said he was willing to take any suggestions the board might have for his dog to go to a loving environment.

“I don't want anyone to turn my animal into a monster,” he said through tears.

In September, Anna Brahatcek of Arlington pleaded guilty in Washington County Court by waiver to class of dogs prohibited and dog at-large after the pit bull she was caring for [chased and attacked] a 10-year-old boy who was riding his bike in August. The little boy had to get 24 stitches in his leg as a result.

Brahatcek, manager of Rohrig Animal Hospital, told deputies she was fostering the dog until it could be adopted.

The dog was quarantined for rabies before it was euthanized Aug. 24.


Any dog exhibiting pit bull or wolf-hybrid characteristics is hereby determined to
be a public nuisance. It is unlawful to keep, shelter or harbor such breeds of dogs for any purpose within the village limits. (Am. by Ord. No. 603, 9/13/10)

No owner of a dog exhibiting Doberman or Rottweiler characteristics shall permit
the dog to go beyond the property of the owner unless the dog is restrained
securely by a muzzle and gentle leader, along with a secondary chest harness or
choker. (Ref. Neb. Rev. Stat. §54-618) (Ord. No. 603, 9/13/10)

1. The following definitions shall apply in reference to dangerous dogs:

  • A. "Animal Control Authority" shall mean the Village Board of Arlington.
  • B. "Animal control officer" shall mean any individual employed, appointed or authorized by the Animal Control Authority for the purpose of aiding in the enforcement of this act or any other law or ordinance relating to the licensing, control, or seizure and impoundment of animals, and shall include any state or local law enforcement personnel or other employees whose duties in whole or in part include assignments that involve the seizure and impoundment of any animal.
  • C. "Dangerous dog" shall mean any dog that (1) has attacked, killed or inflicted injury on a human being on public or private property or (2) has attacked, injured or killed a domestic animal while the dog was off the owner's property. A dog shall not be defined as a dangerous dog if any threat or any damage was sustained by a person who, at the time, was committing a willful trespass or any other tort upon the property owner of the dog; nor shall a dog be considered a dangerous dog if the dog was provoked or abused by the party complaining.
  • D. "Domestic animal" shall mean a cat, a dog or livestock.
  • E. "Owner" shall mean any person, firm, corporation, organization, political subdivision or department possessing, harboring, keeping or having control or custody of a dog.
  • F. "Severe injury" shall mean any physical injury that results in lacerations requiring one or more sutures or cosmetic surgery, or one or more broken bones, or that creates a potential danger to the life or health of the victim. (Ref. Neb. Rev. Stat. §54-617)

2. All owners of dangerous dogs, as defined herein, shall be required to obtain a
permit for possession of the same by making an application to the village clerk
annually by or before March 1 each year, which application shall contain the following information and proof:

  • A. Proof of a minimum $100,000.00 liability insurance for damage, injury
  • or death resulting from possession of a dangerous dog.
  • B. Proof that the dangerous dog is spayed or neutered.
  • C. Proof that the dangerous dog has microchip identification.
  • D. Payment of a licensing fee of $100.00 per year.

3. Upon receipt of such application and proof, the village clerk shall be authorized to issue a special dangerous dog license.
(Am. by Ord. No. 603, 9/13/10)

No owner of a dangerous dog shall permit the dog to go beyond the property of
the owner unless the animal is restrained securely by a muzzle and gentle
leader, along with a secondary chest harness or choker. (Ref. Neb. Rev. Stat. §54-618) (Am. by Ord. No. 603, 9/13/10)

1. While unattended on the owner's property, a dangerous dog shall be securely
confined in a humane manner, indoors or in a securely enclosed and locked pen
or structure suitably designed to prevent the entry of young children and to
prevent the dog from escaping.
2. The pen or structure shall have secure sides and a secure top. If the pen or
structure has no bottom secured to the sides, the sides shall be embedded into
the ground. The pen or structure shall also protect the dog from the elements.
3. The owner of a dangerous dog shall post a warning sign on the property
where the dog is kept that is clearly visible and that informs persons that a dangerous dog is on the property. (Ref. Neb. Rev. Stat. §54-619)

Any dangerous dog may be immediately confiscated by an animal control officer
if the owner is in violation of this article, and said officer may enter upon private
property in order to confiscate the animal. In lieu of confiscation, the animal control officer may immediately destroy the dangerous dog if it poses a threat of
harm to said officer or any other person or property. The owner shall be responsible for the costs incurred by the Animal Control Authority for the care and boarding of a dangerous dog confiscated by an animal control officer or for the destruction of any dangerous dog if the owner violated this article. (Ref. Neb. Rev. Stat. §54-620)

(Pilot Tribune & Enterprise - Nov 23, 2016)


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