Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Fremont Ohio Group Opposes Breed Specific Laws

October 12,2009
From The

FREMONT -- A group of citizens gathered Sunday afternoon to learn more about why breed-specific laws for dogs don't work.

Locals gathered at 521 White Road to voice their concerns about the possibility of pit bulls being regulated by the city.

Jean Keating, of Ohio Coalition of Dog Advocates, Inc., out of Avon Lake said, "We basically try to promote responsible dog ownership in the state, and we're working with legislators on removing the term 'pit bull' from Ohio's definition of a vicious dog." According to the coalition, the laws don't work because they do nothing to address the proven factors that contribute to a dog's likelihood of displaying dangerous behavior such as owner responsibility, abuse and neglect, being inhumanely chained, not being spayed or neutered and dogs roaming at large.

However, Barbara McGrady, of Citizens Opposing Breed Specific Legislation, told those at the meeting that this is what people need to think about, "Banning certain breeds does not address the serious nature of the problem surrounding dog attacks; people who abuse animals and those who are irresponsible. Both of these activities place the community as a whole at risk."

Brent Soper, of Fremont, brought in his pit bull, Roxy, who he has had for nine years.

"(She's) the best dog I've ever owned, she's never left my yard in nine years," he said. When he brought Roxy in, she wagged her tail and made her way to each person as they petted her. The rest of the time she laid calmly by Soper's side. He feels the breed isn't at fault, and that's the owners are at fault for a dog's behavior.

Nichole and Jason Wolf, of Fremont, also brought in their two pit bulls, which also were friendly to those at the meeting.

While Nichole agrees that there are good and bad dogs in every breed, she says if pit bulls are regulated in some way, "it will only hurt the responsible (dog) owners."

But Jane Pollak, of Fremont, feels differently about the breed. Pollak, who was not at the meeting was contacted by telephone Sunday afternoon. She, too agrees that owners are responsible for how a dog behaves.

Last May, two pit bulls had gotten loose from a nearby home and made their way into her garage, where her 15-year-old cocker-mix, Abby, was attacked by the dogs. Abby died four days later from the injuries. Pollak said her main garage door had been closed, but she also has two side doors, and one of them was left open, which is how the two dogs came in.

"I do feel sorry for the dogs because they were put down, because it's not their fault, it's the owners," Pollak said. "I would never trust a pit bull, even though I know they can be nice family dogs."

There is a laws, rules and ordinance meeting of the Fremont City Council at 6:30 p.m. Thursday at city hall to discuss the issue regarding what to do about pit bulls in the city. There will be four guest speakers. 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.

Judy and Bill McKinney, of Fremont, witnessed an attack by a pit bull last month from their home. The McKinneys were also contact by telephone Sunday afternoon.

Judy said she was sitting in her home and had heard a woman screaming "Stop!" "Stop!" When she looked outside, a neighbor's pit bull was attacking a small dog that a family was taking for a walk on a leash.

"I'd never seen an attack before and I never want to see one again," Judy McKinney said, noting she fears for a person or another dog being attacked.

"No one should have to worry when walking their dogs on a leash," she said, noting the owner of the pit bull had gotten rid of the dog after the attack.

Pollak said she appreciates what Hart has asked council to consider.

"I don't want to make dog owners mad, but something needs to be done," she said.

At the meeting, Keating said she is in the process of having the Sandusky County Dog Warden's office gather dog bite records for review.

"We're the only state that has breed specific legislation state-wide," she said.

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