OOIDA member's pit bull confiscated by animal control in Salina, Kan.

By Clarissa Hawes, Land Line staff writer | 4/3/2015

OOIDA Member Nathan Stewart says the unimaginable happened to him after stopping in Salina, Kan., to pick up his mail and see friends. His 5-year-old pit bull named Sophie was confiscated by Salina Animal Control officers.

He told Land Line on Friday, April 3, that he and Sophie had stopped by his best friend’s house and planned to stay there for his 34-hour restart. While Stewart and his friend were out to dinner, Sophie – he describes her as a smart dog – escaped from the house around 5:20 p.m. on March 29.


Nathan Stewart and his 5-year-old pit bull, Sophie, in the cab of his Peterbilt

Another friend of Stewart’s quickly found Sophie and brought her back inside, but not before a Salina resident made a phone call to animal control alerting them that a possible “pit bull-type dog” was running free.

Stewart said within minutes of him arriving back at his friend’s house, Salina animal control officers arrived and confiscated Sophie because of Salina’s pit bull ban. While his driver’s license lists Salina, Kan., as his home address, he says he spends maybe two weeks there a year and the rest of his time out on the road.

“Sophie is the world’s sweetest animal,” Stewart told Land Line on Friday, April 3. “She’s never bit anybody, she’s never bit another dog, and she doesn’t go after them. She is a human cuddler; she likes to be next to people.”

Stewart, who drives for Swift Transportation, has already talked to his dispatcher to make sure he can get back for his court date at 9 a.m. on April 14.

Stewart said he has been given few options and little hope of getting Sophie back.

“What I have been told is that they will offer to drop the charges, but they are going to ask me to go ahead and sign the rights for the dog over to them, and then the city is going to put her down,” Stewart said. “And if I refuse to go ahead and sign her over, I will get a $2,500 fine for harboring a dangerous animal and they are still going to keep my dog and put her down anyway.”

Stewart said since Sophie was taken, he has spoken with other pit bull owners in Salina who have had their dogs confiscated and face a similar fate of their dogs being put down because of their breed.

Stewart said he has also called Petro Stopping Centers in Salina, Kan., alerting them of the pit bull ban. In response, Petro posted this Facebook message, “Hey drivers! Just want to pass on that we learned that the Salina area has an ordinance that prohibits certain breeds of dogs like pit bulls. Before you visit with your favorite pooch, please check with the city for what breeds may be banned.”

As of press time on Friday, the Salina Animal Shelter, where Sophie is being kept, was closed.

Stewart said it has been lonely out on the road without Sophie in the passenger’s seat of his Peterbilt. Desperate to get Sophie back, he said he has called Kansas lawmakers to explain his predicament. So far, no one has the answers he is looking for. However, Stewart says he isn’t giving up.

“I tried to explain that I am a truck driver, that I am in town temporarily, but animal control went ahead and took my dog,” he said. “Sophie is the world’s sweetest animal.”

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