Reynoldsburg News

Reynoldsburg ad hoc committee

Attorney says definition of pit bull 'does not exist'


There is a basic problem with Reynoldsburg's law regarding pit bulls, according to an attorney representing several city residents who have been cited for violating it.

"The definition of a pit bull does not exist," Tammy Nortman said.

Nortman, an attorney from Dayton, said she attended the April 16 meeting of an ad hoc committee charged with studying the city's laws on vicious animals to "talk about definitions."

She said the American Kennel Club (AKC) doesn't recognize the pit-bull type terrier as a breed. The American Staffordshire terrier became known as a pit dog, pit bull terrier and later, American bull terrier, Nortman said, adding that that dogs commonly known as pit bulls are mixed breeds.

Nortman said she considers the ban in Reynoldsburg unconstitutional. In addition, she said, banning pit bulls could also violate the Americans with Disabilities Act, which allows pit bulls to become service dogs.

Vicki Deisner, from the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty of Animals, said her group has concerns "over sections of your legislation. We think there is a lack of understanding of due process for citizens who are cited and feel that you have failed to address the root of the problem, which is safety," she said.

Their remarks came after committee moderator Stephen Smith, also an attorney, invited public comment.

In response, Stephanie Smith said a spay and neuter clause should be considered.

Molly Stancliff suggested a tethering clause so dogs could not be tethered outside for longer than an hour at a time.

Since some of the speakers, including Stancliff, live outside city limits, committee member Bruce Sowell objected to their testimony.

"I have a problem with folks who come into the community and tell us what to do when they don't live here," he said.

"Dogs are property and they are regulated by legislation by city or state."

He said Ohio is reconsidering its dangerous dog ordinance, after a woman was killed recently by a pit bull type dog in Montgomery County.

Committee member Monica DeBrock said the story he referred to was updated and the two dogs that attacked the woman in February were mixed breeds but are not considered pit bulls.

"Our ordinance would not have prevented that fatality," DeBrock said.

Lori Schwartzkopf, a member of Pit Bulls for Reynoldsburg, who has a Reynoldsburg mailing address but lives just outside the city limits, presented information from the Reynoldsburg Police Department.

She said 10 people who were cited this year for harboring pit bulls owned animals "that exhibited no bad behavior.

"No bites. No running at large. No menacing. Nothing. Wouldn't it be easier, more cost-effective and more fair to cite a dog owner based on dog behavior?"

Sandy Westermiller said she believes all pit bull breeds are dangerous.

"I just watched a video by a dad who said they adopted a rescued pit bull that killed his 2-year-old son," she said. "It does not matter where you are located, this breed does not change."