A Failure Since 2008

Lakewood’s pit bull ban was enacted in 2008 and over the past 9 years has failed to make Lakewood safer. It is time that we move forward with proven methods to make Lakewood a safer place to live, work and play in for residents and visitors alike. 
If you think the “I’m With Charlie” movement is just about Charlie and Jennifer Scott, you have missed the point entirely. It’s about a law that has miserably failed our city. It’s about all the good people and good dogs that have gone through hell because of the way they look and not they way they act. It is about ending the ban and enacting stronger ordinances that get to the root of the problem. It’s about more resources, better education, better communication, better enforcement and higher fines for irresponsible owners. It’s about making Lakewood safer than it is now. It’s about respecting bite victims by addressing real problems with proven methods. It's about creating an environment that shows to everyone that Lakewood takes companion pet ownership and safety seriously. It's about teaching our children that discrimination is not the answer.
The fear mongering must end. I am sick and tired of people and our leadership pointing to “pit” attacks in order to support the ban. This does not make us safe. Oftentimes these dogs are misidentified or under the 50% pit threshold, making them perfectly legal dogs if they resided in Lakewood. What about the two non-pit dogs that mauled a Sheffield Lake man on October 2nd, causing him to be life-flighted to the hospital? Not one news website reported it because pit-bulls weren’t involved. Sensationalism wins and non-pit-bulls don’t make for high traffic news stories.
Ordinance 506.03 is a false law and shouldn’t even be part of public policy. It fails all of us. Let’s put all the science and reputable studies that are against pit bull bans aside for the list below. There are quite a lot. REPUTABLE studies and NON-BIASED organizations that support pit bull bans? ZERO.
Why the ban is failing Lakewood.

    • There’s no wall or check point to keep pit bulls out. People bring them in knowingly, they’re misidentified by the city and approved to come in, they’re adopted as puppies or people move here with dogs over 50% pit bull that didn’t know about the silly law. Let's not forget that this shouldn't even matter since dogs aren't born dangerous.
    • Misidentification. The city has approved the very dog they ban to live here. Even experts can’t visually identify dogs that are over 50% pit bull 100% of the time. Dogs over 50% pit bull don’t all look like your stereotypical pit bull. Yes, you know your neighbor's dog with a blocky head that doesn’t really look like it’s illegal in Lakewood. Some of them are. What about your neighbor’s dog that doesn’t really look like it’s 50% or more pit? It easily could be.
    • The ban wastes your money. I would estimate that easily over $100,000 worth of time and money has been wasted on this failed law since 2008. Animal control officer’s time, litigation, hiring outside lawfirms, lost lawsuits and more. Look up the story of Leonard Shelton. Long story short, the city misidentified his well behaved dog, settled a lawsuit and Leonard moved out of Lakewood. He was a 20 year marine veteran with PTSD that served our country. Google news search “Leonard Shelton Roscoe Lakewood” It’s embarrassing and shameful to say the least.
    • BSL fails to get to the root of the problem. Banning a dog based on looks or expelling a well-behaved dog does not make Lakewood safer. Period. The irresponsible and uneducated owners are rarely punished. The good ones that socialize and walk their dogs in public are the ones that often get punished.
    • Animal Control resources are misdirected. While they are answering calls of suspected pit bulls or at hearings, their time is being taken away from real animal issues that matter. Why not use that time to teach children animal safety in classrooms similar to the fire department visiting the classrooms and teaching fire safety?
    • Innocent and well behaved dogs are killed. People assume they’re dangerous and don’t adopt them and shelters euthanize them.
    • The CDC, American Bar Association, ASPCA, AKC, AVMA, HSUS, NACA (NACA ironically trains Lakewood’s Animal Control Officers) and many more don’t support pit bull bans. On top of that, the Ohio State Supreme Court recently ruled pit bull bans are unconstitutional.
    • Common Sense. Dangerous is not the way a dog looks. 

We must work together with a stronger dog ordinances, better education, communication and access to services. We must respect our neighbors and end the bullying now. We must take safety in Lakewood seriously starting today. Mayor Summers, equity and safety can co-exist. To say they can’t is a false choice. I’m for making Lakewood safer, fair and accepting of everyone. Lakewood is unique in size, proximity and population. And for these reasons, we must take companion pet safety seriously and not rely on the way a dog looks.

Greg Murray

Born and raised in Lakewood, I'm an animal photographer and advocate. I don't discriminate based on the way a dog looks. I love them all.

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Volume 13, Issue 21, Posted 5:02 PM, 11.08.2017