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Pit bull talks in C’ville

June 29, 2012

Cridersville Police Chief John Drake

CRIDERSVILLE — Cridersville Village Council Safety Committee members discussed Thursday the possibility of adding legislation to continue to label pit bulls as potentially dangerous.

Cridersville Police Chief John Drake presented an ordinance from the city of St. Marys and recommended the village adopt a comparable ordinance to help protect the village.

Ohio legislators passed a change in Ohio Revised Code banning pit bull-type dogs as automatically being declared “dangerous” or “vicious.” Prior to the law that took effect May 22, any pit bull-type dog was described as automatically vicious and owners had to adhere to several safety restrictions in order to own the pets. Local governments could pass other, more restrictive legislation

A grass roots campaign across the state was successful in removing the dogs from the breed-specific legislation, however, the vote still enabled local governments to pass restrictions on owners for owning pit bulls or other animals they feel may pose a risk.

When asked by committee members on his feeling regarding what council should do, Drake suggested the council designate pit bulls as vicious to help ensure safety in the village.

“Seeing what I’ve dealt with, I think we need to designate pit bulls,” Drake said.

Councilors seemed split on the decision, but remained civil and seemed to consider varying points of view when discussing whether to enact a local ordinance.

Councilor Shirley Anderson said she felt the dogs were dangerous and needed to be legislated locally.

Mayor Lorali Myers agreed.

“I think we need to be on the conservative side of the argument,” Myers said. “I don’t want blood on my hands.”

Myers spoke of a recent Ohio pit bull attack when a pet killed a 3-year-old boy in Ohio.

Councilor Stacey Cook, however, felt that new legislation would cover the possibility of any danger.

Councilor Tony Zuppardo agreed, but said he could see both sides of the argument.

“I can see both sides,” Zuppardo said. “It is not an easy matter. They are a big, strong dog.”

Councilors continued to syphon more information out of Drake, who told councilors the department averaged about six to 10 dog bites a year. He estimated there were 20 pit bulls within the village limits and there had been four pit bull bites since he had been police chief in the village. The most recent was reported Wednesday, when a pit bull bit a 4-year-old.

“Fortunately, he was not seriously hurt,” Drake said.

After discussing the matter at length, councilors finally decided to have an ordinance comparable to the St. Marys ordinance drawn up and to debate the issue and vote on it at its July meeting.

“I am going to be very vocal on how I feel,” Myers said. “I think we need to concentrate on the harm that can be done and not the likelihood of an attack.”

The dog involved in the recent bite has been quarantined for 10 days per Ohio law with Auglaize County Dog Warden Russ Bailey for evaluation.

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