Carl Monday Investigation: Pit Bulls in Cleveland
CLEVELAND, OH (WOIO) - Four out of every ten dogs at the Cleveland City Kennel have pit bull in their bloodline.
That can add up to thousands of dogs in one year.
For most of them, finding a new home won't be a problem.
"Most of the dogs we adopt out are pit bull or pit bull type dogs," says Cleveland's Chief Animal Control Officer Ed Jamison.
On the street, it's no secret that many pit bulls are abandoned by drug dealers, criminals, and those who had the dogs for protection. But some who live and work in the city say they are the ones who need protecting.
USPS mail carrier Martel Norris was on his regular Glenville route in Cleveland when a pit bull charged at him.
"I was on my next delivery just crossing over someone's driveway. Soon as the dog seen me, it went charging instantly. I reached for my pepper spray, couldn't get it out in time, cause two seconds he was at my leg," Norris recalled.
The pit bull latched onto Norris's leg, putting him out of commission for more than two weeks while undergoing therapy and treatment for blood clots in his leg.
Norris was one of the lucky ones. He said he had seen the dog before, leashed to an abandoned home. Somehow it got loose on the day of the attack.
Cleveland19's investigative producer asked Norris if he felt that pit bulls are increasing in neighborhoods.
"Absolutely. I've seen people coming up with pit bull puppies, they are breeding more puppy pit bulls. I know that's one of their favorites. They love pit bulls," Norris said.
As the pit bull population grows in Cleveland, so do reports of pit bull attacks.
Carl Monday's investigative team reviewed police reports for all animal attack calls since the beginning of 2014.
The city has reported approximately 500 dog bites that can be attributed to a specific breed. About 40 percent involved pit bulls.
Still, the city's Chief Animal Control Officer, Ed Jamison, insists that pit bulls pose no particular danger to the public.
"I do not believe that the City of Cleveland has a pit bull problem," Jamison said.
Only four area communities have specific pit bull laws. Cleveland is not one of them, having done away with breed specific laws in 2011.
CLICK TO LEARN MORE ABOUT CLEVELAND'S ANIMAL ORDINANCES
Neither is Shaker Heights. But that could soon change.
"We just can't allow that kind of danger to exist in the city without doing something about it," said Shaker Heights Law Director William Gruber. He is considering a new law that would tighten restrictions on current pit bull owners, and ban any future pit bull ownership in Shaker Heights.
"By the time we find a dog is vicious, that means it already killed a domestic animal, cat or dog, or has severely injured a human," Gruber said.
Or in the case of 71-year-old Annie Williams, even worse.
Last summer, Williams was picking up her grandchildren at a relative's home in Shaker Heights, when the family's pit bull mauled her, killing her.
There was no warning.
The grandchildren, 8 and 7 years old, saw it all.
Their mother, Tequila Williams, described what happened when the 8-year-old called and broke the news on the phone.
"She said 'grandma...grandma got...no...grandma's dead.' The dog bit her in the neck and they couldn't stop the bleeding," Williams said.
Williams' violent death convinced Shaker Heights to take action.
CLICK FOR MORE ON OHIO'S STATE REGULATIONS ON DOGS
There are a number of organizations that support pit bulls in northeast Ohio, including Secondhand Mutts, Muttley Crue Rescue, and Badges for Bullies, just to name a few.
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