Reynoldsburg News

Residents want Reynoldsburg to reconsider law on pit bulls

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Two Reynoldsburg residents want the city to reconsider its ban on pit bulls, but their arguments are not swaying the chairman of council's safety committee.

The city's current legislation, approved in 1996, covers the control and harboring of vicious or dangerous dogs. It says no one is allowed to keep a vicious dog, which includes pit bulls.

Lori Schwartzkopf and Brad Hauser are seeking "breed-neutral" legislation that does not specifically ban one breed from the city.

Speaking at the July 8 Reynoldsburg City Council meeting, Schwartzkopf said the state of Ohio removed breed-specific legislation from the Ohio Revised Code in February 2012 and 13 Ohio cities subsequently repealed their breed-specific laws.

She said Reynoldsburg's ordinance "bans vicious dogs from the city, which includes pit bull dogs, regardless of whether they exhibit any of the behavior or fit other criteria.

"There is no evidence that breed-specific legislation is effective in making a city safer, and it can represent a significant cost to taxpayers to enforce," she said. "Singling out one breed for control tends to compromise rather than enhance public safety because it ignores the true scope of the problem.

"Alternative legislation that addresses a dog's behavior and negligent dog owners, along with programs for community education, do more to ensure citizen safety."

Schwartzkopf said she asked Councilman Chris Long after Monday's meeting if he would bring up the issue in next week's safety committee session but he "flat-out refuses to bring the issue to committee, saying that he can't stop people from making these dogs aggressive so he has to ban the dogs."

Long confirmed his stance on the issue Tuesday, July 9.

"As chairman of the safety committee, I'm not going to put it on the committee," he said. "Her claim was that legislation would be able to let us control people's actions with dangerous dogs, but that is not something we could enforce.

"That is paramount to saying speed limits negate speeding," he said. "Legislation would not solve any possibility of someone being hurt by a dangerous dog."

He conceded that other breeds could also be dangerous.

"But I don't remember reading any news stories about people being mauled or killed by a Chihuahua," he said.

He said Schwartzkopf and Hauser are welcome to come back to council and to committee meetings to garner support from other council members.

"As chairman of the safety committee, I think it is important for me to determine what safety issues I think should come before the committee," Long said.

Hauser said scientific studies have shown that pit bulls do not have stronger jaws or the ability to "lock their jaws" on victims.

"There is a stigma that all pit bulls are bred to fight, but that is just not true," he said.

Hauser said they have a Facebook page supporting the issue, called "Pit bulls for Reynoldsburg," which currently has 339 "likes."

"Our specific mission is to focus on changing breed-specific legislation so that each dog will be considered an individual," he said. "There is no scientific evidence that one individual dog is more dangerous than another."

Schwartzkopf said it's important to understand why a dog bites in order to prevent bites from happening.

"Research from the CDC (Centers for Disease Control) and national animal experts have found that breed is not a significant factor in determining whether an individual dog might bite," she said.

Other factors are usually involved when dogs are involved in serious bites or attacks, she said, such as whether the animals were neutered, were unsocialized, subjected to abuse or neglect or were dogs used for protection and guarding.

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