City Seeks Solutions
Omaha city codes say a dangerous animal is one that attacks a person or another animal without being provoked or that has a history of attack or violence.
Owners who do get their dog back after an attack must take out a $100,000 insurance policy, have the dog in a muzzle, put up a 6-foot high fence and post signs making everyone aware that a dangerous animal lives there.
Omaha Mayor Mike Fahey said Thursday that he is deeply disturbed by the pit bull attack.
Fahey's office said his thoughts and prayers are with the victims.
On Monday, the Omaha Police Department, Nebraska Humane Society and Fahey will meet to discuss possible options to limit the danger some dogs pose. The mayor's office said it won't rule anything out, from more safety education to a full ban on some breeds.
Even before Wednesday's dog attacks, the city of Omaha was looking into proactive ways to stop pit bull attacks, officials said.
"If the dog is held on a bite out here, and the owners have been cited for harboring a dangerous animal, we let the courts decide," Langan said. "The judge decides what ultimately happens next."
NHS holds animals for 10 days to check them for rabies. Then, either the owner gets the animal back or the dog is destroyed.
Langan and others have been working for the past few years to find proactive safety options.
"We've already been in contact with the Omaha Police Department talking about different strategies. If there is a pit-bull problem, how to solve the pit-bull problem, how to prevent bites like this from happening in the future," Langan said.
Omaha Interim Police Chief Eric Buske has been part of those conversations.
"I think pit bulls and all dogs should not be allowed to run loose. They need to be secured in a tight manner so they can't get out and hurt people," Buske said.
Doctor Says Child Suffered Devastating Injury
The 15-month-old whose scalp was torn off Wednesday by a pit bull was in serious condition on Thursday.
Creighton University Medical Center doctors said Charlotte Blevins suffered a devastating injury.
The surgeon who stitched the girl up, Dr. Anardip Bhueller, said one-third of her scalp is missing and the injury cut through several layers of the scalp. She was in surgery for two to three hours on Wednesday.
The doctor said the reattached scalp only covers about 80 percent of the injury. Doctors will wait to see if her body accepts the new skin and watch for infection, which is a higher risk with dog bites.
Bhueller said a second surgery is scheduled for Monday.
The doctor said the child is comfortable and happy, but her parents are devastated.
Over the long term, Charlotte faces many surgeries to expand her scalp where she was injured.
"I think we have several years of surgery to expand the scalp to cover where this injury is.
The idea is to get her where hair is growing," Bhueller said.
The doctor said he hopes to have the process complete before Charlotte starts school.
The attack happened at about 3:30 p.m. Wednesday near 13th and Pine streets. Police said two mothers were pulling two children in a wagon when the dog came out of its collar
and attacked. Ray said the dog pulled Blevins from the wagon by the scalp.
Witnesses said the whole attack happened in less than 30 seconds. A witness said the dog's owner, Tina Agerson, tried to restrain the 2-year-old pit bull, named Duke, but the dog continued to attack.
One of the mothers suffered bites to her neck. The dog bit the other woman on the hand.
Agerson said she was walking her dog when he escaped from the leash. She said the mother blocked her as she tried to pull her dog off the children.
Mark Langan, of the Nebraska Humane Society, said the owner was ticketed on suspicion of harboring a dangerous animal. He said more charges may be pending. Langan said the dog will be held for 10 days and will be put to sleep.
A block away and a couple of hours after Blevins was hurt, police said another pit bull attacked a 12-year-old boy, biting him on the arm. Tiffany Newcomb's pit bull, Monster, was taken away Wednesday after he bit the boy. She said the dog was always friendly and had never bitten anyone before.
Newcomb said her 5-year-old son, Anthony, isn't taking the loss well.
"That's his best friend. I call them brothers all the time. So he's kind of freaking. He thinks he's going to get the dog back but I told him I don't know," Newcomb said.
Newcomb is waiting to hear whether she can get the dog back. Until then, she said she understands why everyone is concerned about some pit bulls.
"I don't really blame them, because there's been a lot of incidents, but it really is how they're raised," Newcomb said.
Bless the Bullys