Lakewood mayor floats pit bull ban repeal; critics weary of new - Cleveland 19 News Cleveland, OH

Lakewood mayor floats pit bull ban repeal; critics weary of new proposal

Charlie the dog was deemed a pit bull, and has been banned from Lakewood. (Source: Greg Murray) Charlie the dog was deemed a pit bull, and has been banned from Lakewood. (Source: Greg Murray)
The fight to keep Charlie the dog in Lakewood has gained momentum as protestors have pressured city leaders to amend its vicious dog ordinance. (Source: WOIO) The fight to keep Charlie the dog in Lakewood has gained momentum as protestors have pressured city leaders to amend its vicious dog ordinance. (Source: WOIO)
LAKEWOOD, OH (WOIO) -

Mayor Mike Summers has proposed to eliminate the city's pit bull ban, which Lakewood City Council will consider for the first time at its meeting Tuesday night.

After listening to residents regarding their feelings on the city ordinance, Summers said he wants to revive the conversation to repeal the law, which bans dogs from the city if they're deemed more than 51 percent pit bull.

The controversy over the ban reached new heights this past summer when Lakewood resident Jennifer Scott was ordered to remove her pit bull mix, Charlie, from the city.

Scott has helped assemble a large group of supporters and activists who want to see the pit bull ban lifted.

She said at first she was elated to hear there would be changes to the law. But then she looked at it closer.

"I was shocked and sickened and saddened. It is still discrimination. It is in no way shape or form a way to treat well-behaved dogs," she said.

Several other dog owners expressed similar opinions. 

"When this ban was passed back in 2008, it was done with the idea of safety in mind," said Summers in a prepared statement. "Since then, that's what we've had in mind when enforcing this. However, the time has come for us to reevaluate."

The mayor said the new ordinance is based on existing legislation in Lima and Avon Lake.

Nearby cities such as Rocky River have similar components, like muzzling requirements.

According to the proposed legislation, no breed of dog will be banned in the city, but there are requirements on how certain types of dogs are controlled when at home and in public, while also placing consequences on owners who do not follow the requirements.

Based on the recommendations from Lakewood's animal control officers, the breeds covered in the proposed legislation include pit bulls, pit bull mixes, American Staffordshire terriers, Stafforshire bull terriers, American pit bull terriers, American bulldogs, canary mastiff dogs and Cane Corso dogs.

When dogs of these breeds are on their owners' property, they must be confined in one of the following ways:

  • Inside an enclosure with a secured top, including a house.
  • In a locked fenced yard in the rear of the property also tethered to the ground on a tether no longer than 10 feet, or on a tether controlled by someone 18 or older.
  • In a locked pen, with a secure top, and supervised by someone 18 or older.

When dogs of these breeds are not on their owners' property, they must be:

  • Muzzled and on a leash no longer than six feet in length and have a person controlling them who is 18 or older.
  • Inside an enclosure with a secured top, including a house.
  • In a locked fenced yard in the rear of the property also tethered to the ground on a tether no longer than 10 feet or on a tether controlled by someone 18 or older.
  • In a locked pen, with a secure top, and supervised by someone 18 or older

The dog must be able to eat and drink while wearing the muzzle.

According to the legislation, residents may only own one dog that is a breed listed above and owners must maintain a liability insurance policy of not less than $100,000.

Summers said there is also proposed changes to the classification of dogs, adding a new "potential nuisance dog," which would be the lowest aggression classification behind nuisance, dangerous and vicious.

"The idea with this new ordinance is to focus on how the dogs are controlled by their owners and therefore hold the owners responsible," he said.

The only time a dog could be permanently removed from the city or euthanized is if the court orders it after finding that the dog killed another domestic animal or caused serious injury to a human as a result of the owner violating one of the requirements.

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