City Code Change Proposed to Enforce Pet Rules

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Grand Island, NE -- Changes to Grand Island's animal code could make breaking rules much more costly.

City Council met Tuesday night to study the proposed changes to the current code.

The Central Nebraska Humane Society and the Grand Island Attorney's Office are looking to fix issues with City Code Chapter 5, concerning pets in the city.

The proposed changes to city codes won't only effect pet owners, but all city residents.

"Help it be more comfortable in the community living next to animals. We are being able to enforce barking dogs, we are stepping up our enforcement of, not only shelter and food, but the other requirements grooming," said Laurie Dethloff, the Executive Director at the Central Nebraska Humane Society. "We're trying to get more the enforcement directed at the owners, whose responsibility it is."

This is happening now because the City Attorney's office finished carefully studying Chapter 5.

"We spent the last year or so going Chapter 5 from beginning to end seeing what works, what doesn't work, how can we change it to make sure that it works," said Stacy Nonhof, the Assistant City Attorney.

City officials said this is something that should have happened sooner, because codes need to be updated.

Nonhof said, "Periodically certain provisions in Chapter 5 were changed. I think last in 2008. It has not been reviewed top to bottom since I don't know when. So it's time for it to be reviewed. It's time for things to be addressed."

That includes creating harsher punishments so people learn from previous reprimands.

Dethloff said, "Until there's significant fines it usually doesn't change the behavior of the individual. If you are habitually being irresponsible as an owner, we can present you with a document saying that you're deemed an irresponsible owner and, if upheld, you can no longer have animals for 2 years within the city limits."

These changes are not meant to hurt pets or owners, just help the city as a whole.

"We're trying to make people accountable for their pets and any actions of their pets and to be a responsible pet owner will keep all citizens of Grand Island safe," said Nonhof.