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BSL Alert Lorain, Ohio
Residents bark over city regulations for pit bulls
KATE GIAMMARISE, Morning Journal Writer
LORAIN -- A council committee meeting last evening almost turned into a real dog fight. The topic -- legislation that could regulate pit bulls in the city of Lorain.
The city's Animal Control Officer, Michael Mattei, gave an impassioned presentation to council members at the Police and Fire Committee meeting on the need for regulation of the dogs.
'We need this ordinance to protect our citizens,'' Mattei said.
Disagreeing were about half a dozen audience members who spoke against what they termed ''breed-specific legislation'' that they said unfairly singled out pit bulls.
The legislation, while not an outright ban on the dogs, would:
-- label pit bulls ''vicious dogs''
-- limit ownership of pit bulls to one per household, though residents who already have more than one pit bull would be allowed to keep all their dogs under a grandfather clause
-- require the dogs to be spayed or neutered
-- mandate owners confine the dog while it is on their property and keep it on a leash when it is not on their property
Mattei and Lorain Director of Environmental Health Jack Kurowski helped Law Director Mark Provenza author the legislation, Mattei said.
Many in the audience said they were not convinced the legislation would work.
One dog owner said she was concerned if the law were passed and her dog were labeled as ''vicious,'' she could lose her homeowners' insurance.
Shana Klein, president and founder of Canine Advocates of Ohio and For the Love of Pits, said owners are ultimately the ones responsible for properly caring for their dogs.
''These (breed specific) laws are ineffective,'' Klein said.
Another man said not all pit bulls are dangerous.
''The only fighting issue I have with my dog is for the comforter at night,'' he said, and invited council members to come to the parking lot and meet his two pit bulls.
Still, many council members said even if the legislation were modified, some type of regulation would be needed, particularly in the wake of the mauling of a 7-year-old girl by a pit bull in May.
Council members voted unanimously to put the legislation on hold to review articles, studies and other information provided by both sides.
Lorain Council still working on pit bull law
Stephen Szucs | The Chronicle-Telegram
LORAIN — Lorain City Council’s Police and Fire Committee still wants to iron out some issues with a proposed pit bull ordinance before sending a recommendation to Council.
Mike Mattei, the city’s animal control officer, told the committee that pit bulls are becoming more of a problem every day and pulled out numbers to support the ordinance.
Of the 146 pit bulls he’s picked up since his first day on the job in January, he said, 85 percent were euthanized because no owner came forward to claim them.
Mattei said pit bulls were to blame for 60 of the 305 dog bites reported throughout the city last year, and went on to show the committee a picture of the injuries sustained by a 7-year-old girl after she was mauled in May.
“It’s a dog that’s inflicted bad damage and practically removed the face of a girl seven months ago,” he said.
The ordinance would establish the pit bull as a vicious breed and requires owners to properly confine pit bulls, in addition to limiting owners to one pit bull per household or residence.
Each pit bull will have to be registered with the city, according to the proposed ordinance, and proof that the dog has been spayed or neutered also will be required.
Should owners violate the restrictions, they will be fined between $25 and $100 for the first offense. Each subsequent offense will result in a fine of at least $75 and can grow to more than $250 and include a 30-day jail sentence.
Lorain Law Director Mark Provenza said the ordinance would allow owners with multiple pit bulls prior to the ordinance to be grandfathered in and be exempt from the new law.
Shana Klein, President of Canine Advocates of Ohio, told the committee that breed specific legislation doesn’t work, and whipped out her own facts about dog attacks.
“There hasn’t been a fatal pit bull attack in 15 years,” she said. “There are 40 breeds of dogs that have severely mauled people.”
The committee requested more time to review the ordinance, and will meet again on the topic next month.
Contact Stephen Szucs at (440) 336-4016 or online at email@example.com
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