Citizens For A Better Norwood

Friday, March 16, 2007

Norwood’s vicious dog ordinance up close and personal

Our beloved family pet Sally, who was loved by many of our friends and neighbors, passed away on March 5th at the age of 15. She was a Staffordshire Bull Terrier. Although no dog could ever replace our Sally, we felt that opening our home and our hearts to a new pet would be fitting. I called several shelters in an effort to seek out a pet that would best suit our family dynamics, but was dismayed and saddened when I was turned away from several shelters because of an ordinance known as the BSL or Breed Specific Legislation. A call to city hall confirmed that Norwood indeed has a BSL provision as part of its vicious dog ordinance. It identifies the Staffordshire Bull Terrier, along with any other dog that looks like a “pit bull,” as banned under the ordinance.

How could anyone classify my Sally as a vicious dog? In an effort to understand the ordinance, I did some homework. In a decision reached by the Sixth Appellate District Court of Lucas County, a resident sued the City of Toledo in an effort to overturn the city’s vicious dog ordnance. After considering testimony and evidence from 16 experts in scientific information and data about pit bulls, the court found that pit bulls are not, as a breed, more dangerous than other breeds. The court found no statistical evidence that indicates pit bulls bite more often than some other breeds. The court went on to say, “once the finding is made that a specific breed does not inherently present a greater danger than any other breed, a law that regulates that breed on the basis of mere ownership is arbitrary, unreasonable and discriminatory”.

With such a decisive ruling in the Toledo case, it's time for Norwood to strike the BSL language from the vicious dog ordinance. It’s arbitrary, unreasonable and discriminatory.

Carmen McKeehan