Reynoldsburg News

New vote needed on committee to study pit bull laws

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Reynoldsburg City Council will have to vote again on the makeup of an ad hoc committee to study the city's laws about pit bulls.

Council President Doug Joseph said Monday, March 3, that a vote to approve the committee on Feb. 24 was not valid.

"A final vote after the vote to amend did not occur, so the appointments are not valid," he said. "Another vote on March 10 will be scheduled."

The ad hoc committee list was amended to include former school board member Ryan Brzezinski and residents Carrie Acosta and Bruce Sowell, at the insistence of Councilwoman Leslie Kelly, who said she thought the list should include more Reynoldsburg residents.

Joseph wanted mostly dog experts, saying, "We need to study the science behind the issue."

Others named to the ad hoc committee are: Stephen J. Smith, an attorney with experience prosecuting canine cases; Dr. Joel Melin, a Reynoldsburg veterinarian; Dr. Heath Jolliff, a physician with experience treating dog bite victims; Scott Mueller, a Reynoldsburg-area dog trainer; Joe Rock, director of Franklin County Animal Control; Mark McKenzie, a Reynoldsburg resident, and Monica DeBrock, former Reynoldsburg City Council member.

Non-voting members of the committee will be City Attorney Jed Hood and Police Chief Jim O'Neill.

A group called Pit Bulls for Reynoldsburg has been protesting the city's ban against pit bulls since last July and has been asking council to follow the lead of other Ohio cities and the state, which have removed breed-specific language from their laws.

Lori Schwartzkopf, a member of Pit Bulls for Reynoldsburg, said she researched surrounding cities and found that only Reynoldsburg and Bexley ban pit bulls. Columbus, Gahanna, Pataskala, Pickerington and Whitehall have breed-neutral legislation. Canal Winchester, Dublin and Upper Arlington put restrictions on ownership of pit bulls but do not ban them.

Several Reynoldsburg police reports filed since July have indicated officers have shown up at houses when neighbors report that someone might have a pit bull and have told the dog owners they would be cited if they did not remove the animals from the homes.

In a more recent report, a Reynoldsburg police officer said he was forced to shoot a dog he identified as a pit bull after the animal attacked him.

Officer Robert Campbell reported he and other officers responded to a call at 10:30 p.m. Feb. 15 about a dog identified as "possibly a pit bull" that was loose on Carlyle Drive.

According to the police report, the dog was standing on the porch of a house in the 1400 block of Carlyle Drive and the people inside felt "unable to exit."

Campbell wrote that when he arrived, "The dog was barking and growling at officers as the resident spoke to us from her bedroom window."

"The dog repeatedly assumed an aggressive posture and growled while displaying its teeth," Campbell wrote.

He said while officers were "attempting to calm the canine," he got word about an active gun complaint in another area of town and turned to return to his patrol car. At that point, he said, another officer shouted to warn him the dog was charging.

"I then felt a small pinch on the back of my left calf and felt the dog's head impact my leg," Campbell wrote in his report. "I quickly turned to face the canine as it moved to the rear bumper of my vehicle. The dog reassumed a low, aggressive posture and began to move toward me quickly. I then drew my service pistol and fired a single shot into the head/face of the canine."

He said the dog recoiled and ran out of sight. Officers searched for the animal, following "an extensive blood trail" and finally located it under a car in the 8300 block of Emrick Close.

"It was still alive and defending its territory," according to a narrative supplement to the police report.

Officers from Franklin County Animal Shelter were called and took the dog. No owner was found for the dog, according to a supplement to the police report, and it had to be euthanized.

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