Fremont Law Director Hart said: "...if we can just focus on Pit Bulls now and decide how far the city wants to go in regulating them, anywhere from a total ban to requiring how they are kenneled and locked up. So I think that's kind of where we're at."
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Quotes by Bob Hart, County Law Director: "...When I get the cases in when a dog has bitten somebody and you want to throw up because of the damage because of the mutilation, yeah, pit bulls. Other dogs may bite but they don't rip and tear and kill like pit bulls do."
"My personal feeling is that pit bulls don't belong in municipalities around kids and other companion animals. That's my personal opinion. But I'd like council to start getting a feel for where they'd like to be with that," FREMONT CITY PROSECUTOR BOB HART SAID.
A laws, rules and ordinance committee meeting is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. Oct. 15 at city hall to discuss issues with pit bulls. At an August council meeting, City Law Director Bob Hart said the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in favor of regulating pit bulls. Hart had also encouraged council members to talk to residents about the issue.
Transcript of September 3 Council Meeting:
Fremont City Law Director Bob Hart said: "The Supreme Court has ruled favorably for a city's ability to regulate pit bulls. Despite what our Court of Appeals had ruled - the Supreme Court has issued a decision that pretty much supports a city's ability to regulate bit bulls.
Toledo had an ordinance that actually only allowed one household to own one pit bull and they regulated the number of pit bulls and the Supreme Court has upheld that saying that there is a rational relationship and a legitimate interest for the city to do that for safety reasons.
The other issue that we talked about when we talked was about dangerous and vicious dogs and the city's ability to regulate the animals that have a propensity or that have a history of causing harm or acting in a menacing fashion. That issue right now in my mind is still awful murky. The Supreme Court just issued another decision late last month that I read and quite honestly it makes the issue muddier. So what I suggest to council is to start thinking amongst yourselves, start talking to some people to find out how far the city wants to go in regulating pit bulls.
And I think maybe this fall if the city can just focus on the pit bull issue and get that issue resolved maybe next spring or something the other areas might have a little more clarity where I think that I can give council a little bit more, a little better advice on what we can and can not do as far as other vicious dogs.
But if we can just focus on pit bulls now and decide how far the city wants to go in regulating them anywhere from a total ban to requiring how they are kenneled and locked up. So I think that's kind of where we're at.
The way the state stature was it said the definition of a vicious dog included a dog that either caused harm to a person or serious harm to another animal or was a pit bull, okay? Just because of the breed... Breed specific. If it was a pit bull and if the dog warden determined it was a pit bull it was considered a vicious dog.
Our Sixth District Court of Appeals said, No, wait a minute, you can't do that, you can't say that just because it's a pit bull means it's vicious." Even though the Toledo Municipal Court had expert after expert after expert testify that they (pit bulls) were vicious and the defendant in that case brought in his own expert saying that they weren't vicious the Toledo Municipal Court ruled that they were vicious.
Jean Keating of the Ohio Coalition of Dog Advocates asked that I insert the following regarding Hart's quote above. Ms. Keating states, "The experts Toledo called in did not testify that pit bulls are vicious. I have the transcripts from the hearing. They testified that pits are used to guard drugs in inner city areas and thus police encounter them more frequently. Even Karla Hamlin, Lucas County Pound Manager, stated that pit bulls are no different than other dogs when treated properly."
Hart's council presentation continues, "Our Court of Appeals ruled that they weren't vicious. Our Supreme Court now went back to yes Toledo, you can do it. Okay? So what I'd like council to do is we want to address the whole situation but right now the only thing I think we can do with sufficient clarity is attack the pit bull issue. So I'd like council to think about where we'd like to start with that."
My personal feeling is that pit bulls don't belong in municipalities around kids and other companion animals. That's my personal opinion. But I'd like council to start getting a feel for where they'd like to be with that.
Councilman Nalley asked Hart, "Mr. Hart, when you get calls or complaints regarding dogs is it very often that you're getting those complaints for breeds other than the pit bull... are you getting a variety or mostly pit bulls?
Hart responded, "That would be a better question for the dog warden Gina Habeisen to be asked. (Fred Harris is actually the dog warden, Gina is Deputy Dog Warden)."
"Maybe we can get her to shed some light on her experience with pit bulls but as far as when I get the cases in when a dog has bitten somebody and you want to throw up because of the damage because of the mutilation yeah, pit bulls. Other dogs may bite but they don't rip and tear and kill like pit bulls do."
Barbara McGrady, founder and president of S.P.A., thinks it is important to remove raw emotion and look at treatment of Fremont's pit bulls in a factual, logical, rational way. How many people have been attacked in the city of Fremont by pit bulls? How many have been attacked by all other breeds? How may people in the city of Fremont have been killed by pit bulls? How many have been killed by other dog attacks?
If Fremont's pit bulls are not causing more problems than any of the other breeds, why would it be necessary to discuss banning this breed, which is obviously just being said as a scare tactic to set up acceptance of the alternative measures of more secure enforcement which would generate income from fines.
It is more logical and would probably be more lucrative to the city if the dog warden and prosecutor announced a no-exceptions policy of fining owners the maximum when there are citations for a dog running loose, instead of intruding on the decision of what breed of dog a person chooses as a pet.
The Council may also be considering setting up a panel for dog bite reviews to decide whether a dog is "vicious" according to law. While there is some merit to such an idea, the details must be fully disclosed to the public so it can be further analyzed and discussed, McGrady said.