Pit bull ban debate continues

By Dustin Ensinger
Staff Writer

As Reynoldsburg City Council’s safety committee prepares to consider overturning the city’s law banning pit bulls, advocates on both sides of the debate spoke at the June 23 meeting.

The safety committee on July 7 will consider the recommendation of a committee formed to review the law that the city move toward breed neutral legislation.

But not all city residents believe pit bulls should be treated as any other breed.

Bruce Sowell, who served on the committee that reviewed the law, said breed neutral policies are akin to “free bite legislation.”

“What about the victims?” Sowell asked.

Sowell said studies show that, on average, two people are attacked by a pit bull each day across the country.

“This is an epidemic,” Sowell said. “It’s a safety issue.”

Lori Schwartzkopf, a central Ohio pit bull activist who lives just outside the city, said there have been no issues in with pit bull attacks in Reynoldsburg in 2014.

Thus far, five citations have been issued for biting or menacing, and none of those dogs were pit bulls, Schwartzkopf said.

But there have been 30 citations issued for the control or harboring of vicious dogs, in each case the dogs were thought to be pit bulls. Three were misidentified as pit bulls, she said, and that to continue to enforce the law will be costly.

“This is going to cost the city more and more money,” Schwartzkopf said.

The committee that reviewed the law narrowly voted that dogs receive the vicious label based on behavior rather than breed.

If council adopts the recommendation, the city would be in line with state law. Until 2012, Ohio considered pit bulls vicious. The change in the law now reserves that label for any dog that injures someone or kills another dog without provocation.

However, the law still provides local governments with the autonomy to enforce breed specific legislation.

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