“Not fair:” City ordinance requires 7 dog breeds to be leashed, muzzled at dog park

OMAHA, Nebraska — A city ordinance requires seven dog breeds to be leashed and muzzled at a Nebraska dog park, and it’s not sitting well with some owners.

According to visitomaha.com, Hefflinger Dog Park is Omaha’s first official dog park — billed as “an enclosed outdoor area designed for safe, off-leash play between dogs.”

But Leslie O’Brien said the Omaha city ordinance isn’t allowing her dog, Mia to do that.

“Put the muzzle on her. Keep her leashed inside the dog park. It makes it hard for her to run and play and get exercise, and I feel like she feels she’s being punished,” O’Brien said.

Mia is a two-year-old Staffordshire Bull Terrier — one of seven breeds included in Omaha city ordinance 6-163.

“Everybody would throw her the ball and she’d catch it and now she can’t even do that,” said O’Brien.

The ordinance was first put into play back in 2009 and lists these breeds:

  • American Pit Bull Terrier
  • American Staffordshire Terrier
  • Staffordshire Bull Terrier
  • Dogo Argentina
  • Presa Canario
  • Cane Corso
  • American Bulldog

The ordinance also includes “any dog displaying the majority of physical traits of any one or more of these breeds.”

According to city code, the ordinance reads:

“It shall be unlawful for any person owning, harboring or having the care of a pit bull to permit such animal to be outdoors unless confined in a securely fenced yard or unless the animal is under the control of a person 19 years of age or older, restrained securely by a harness and leash no longer than six feet and properly muzzled to reasonably prevent the animal from biting, provided that the harness and muzzle requirements apply only to those pit bulls six months of age or older.”

“Honestly I don’t even want to [go to the park],” said O’Brien. “It’s not fair to her, and everybody out here who knows me knows she’s not a threat.”

Others who go to the dog park said enforcing the ordinance is a good idea.

“Just a safe precaution because there have been incidents from time to time because certain dogs from certain breeds could be more aggressive than others,” said Gail Walker.

FOX42 reporter Steve Saunders reached out to the Nebraska Humane Society and to the Omaha Dog Parks group, which oversees the park. Officials with both organizations said they’re not aware of any recent incidents at the dog park, and that the city of Omaha is responsible for hanging the sign.

FOX42 also reached out to the city for comment, but have not heard back yet.

“I would like for it to change, so my dog can have just as much of a fun time playing as the other dogs,” said O’Brien.