Pit bull debate in Reynoldsburg could be headed to the courtroom


By Dustin Ensinger
Staff Writer

A group of pro-pit bull activists plans to take their battle with the city of Reynoldsburg regarding its ban on the dog breed to the courts.

Lori Schwarzkopf, who leads an organization that has successfully fought for breed-neutral legislation in other communities, said a lawsuit could be coming as soon as next month, although she declined to elaborate on exactly what the legal action would entail, except that it could be coordinated with activists in other areas across the state where similar bans are in place.

“We are pursuing legal action,” Schwarzkopf said. “We are getting pretty close to submitting what we are going to do. We hope it makes a difference. If it doesn’t, we are just going to keep trying.”

Mayor Brad McCloud said he was unaware of the likely litigation and declined to comment.
In July 2014, Reynoldsburg City Council rejected eight proposals endorsed by a committee created to study the issue, including a provision that would have removed the vicious label from the controversial dog breed.

The proposal, which drew passionate supporters on both sides, would have brought the city’s ordinance into line with state law, which in 2011 was changed to remove the “vicious” label from the pit bull breed.

The measure was struck down in a 5-1 vote, with Councilman Dan Skinner casting the only vote in favor. A lawyer by trade, he said he wanted the city’s law to match the state’s, which bases the “dangerous” and “vicious” label solely on behavior.

The “vicious” label is applied to any dog that kills or causes serious injury to someone without provocation under state law. “Dangerous dogs” are defined as those that cause non-serious injuries to a person or kill another dog without provocation.

Even with two new city council members guaranteed next year, and possibly more, Schwarzkopf has no intention of going back to the city and advocating for change.

“Even if we do get two more members in that are for changing the law, we still won’t have enough votes,” she said. “Legal action is all we have.”

City resident Sandy Westerwiller is concerned about the impact legal action could have, citing two recent cases in Ohio of pit bulls attacking an elderly woman in Shaker Heights and another dog in Avon Lake.

“The common denominator is not location, owners, environment or restrictions of cities,” Westerwiller said. “The common denominator is once again the specific breed of pit bull and mixed pit bulls.”

Westerwiller believes the city – and state – should strengthen its law on vicious dogs.
“I wish our laws would be much more severe and permanent,” Westerwiller said. “Unfortunately, lobbyists seem to decide what residents and homeowners end up with in the state of Ohio and everywhere else. The residents of this city have a choice: you can either let groups determine the safety of your city; or you can speak out loud and clear to your state representatives, especially the governor, and let them know what is unacceptable to you as an Ohioan.”

Schwarzkopf, who plans to continue to try to change hearts and minds, including by having a presence at the annual Tomato Festival, said she thinks the city has essentially stopped enforcing its ordinance that she believes targets pit bulls and their owners.

“It almost seems like they want us to force them to change the law, because that would absolve them of all responsibility,” Schwarzkopf said.

Previous articleItems stolen from Truro Township maintenance garage
Next articleFun at the Tomato Festival


  1. Once again, Westerwiller lets fear dictate her position instead of doing the research herself and taking into account what the ad hoc committee, which was created to study the issue and give its findings to the council, found to be evident. Individuals that believe dogs are to blame for these issues are only falling victim to availability heuristics and not seeing the true problem. If she was truly concerned about the safety of her fellow citizens, perhaps she could write to the council proposing stronger gun regulations, as reynoldsburg has a “firearms superstore” in the city and guns have accounted for far more deaths in the community than dogs, although many would argue that those that wield the gun are more responsible, much like the owners of “vicious animals”. She could write to the state and ask them to remove the Dangerous Wild Animals facility also in The city, as those wild animals pose a much more serious threat than a domesticated dog. My point is this, before hearing or reading a sensationalist news story, it may be wise to first do the research and then determine what the real cause of the issue is and how to deal with it.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here
This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.