By Christine Bryant
Though a repeal of Reynoldsburg’s ban on pit bulls has been signed into law, city officials say they still are working toward putting some teeth into its dangerous animal regulations.
On Feb. 26, in a 4-2 decision, Reynoldsburg City Council voted to remove breed-specific language from the section of city code that addresses control and harboring of vicious or dangerous animals. The ordinance originally listed pit bulls as a banned breed.
Council President Doug Joseph, who filled in as acting mayor while Mayor Brad McCloud was out of town, signed the ordinance repealing the ban on breed-specific dogs into law Feb. 28.
“City council has dealt with this issue off and on for over four years,” Joseph said. “All scientific data and evidence clearly point to the fact that dogs should be judged on what they do, not what they look like or are called. This form of discrimination is no more in the city of Reynoldsburg.”
Although this legislation has been enacted, city officials say there is still more work to be done to create regulations that are fair, but offer protection from dangerous animals.
Brett Luzader, who on council represents the city’s second ward, has asked McCloud to look into the feasibility of hiring an animal control officer who could better monitor and respond to dogs of any breed who pose a risk to residents. Luzader also suggested examining the fees the city charges for registering dangerous dogs.
Currently, dogs that have been deemed dangerous – typically because of an incident that has been reported to and investigated by police officers – must be registered in the city of Reynoldsburg. As part of that registration, the pet owner must pay a fee.
“The $30 fee now wouldn’t cover the cost of an animal control officer visiting a property,” Luzader said.
Ensuring the city has an enforceable leash law is another area Luzader has suggested visiting.
Lori Schwartzkopf, spokesperson for Citizens for a Breed Neutral Reynoldsburg, has advocated since 2013 for the city to reconsider its breed-specific language.
Now that the city ordinance no longer deems a dog as vicious or dangerous based on breed, the group will continue its efforts in other ways, she said.
“Citizens for a Breed Neutral Reynoldsburg will rest for a bit and then pursue other cities where we could make a difference,” Schwartzkopf said.