Saturday, August 8, 2009

Lakewood and their view on dogs...

Meet Stuey. He's my dog. He's an American Bulldog. He's a great pet.

I live in Lakewood, Ohio.

It's a nice suburban area of Cleveland, Ohio on the beautiful shores of Lake Erie.

It's a rather tranquil place. Enough bustle going on to keep us busy. We've got the Cleveland Indians, Cleveland Browns and the Cleveland Cavaliers. We have a world renowned philharmonic, an award winning Museum of Art, several smaller museums and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. There are numerous other attractions around the area such as Boston Mills for skiing and Blossom Music Center. We have a park system that runs for 60+ miles, so you can bike or hike to your hearts content. We have four seasons so we can enjoy all nature has to offer. We even have a pretty good cost of living compared to other cities, so you get all this for less money.

But with all these benefits, we have a city that doesn't really like dogs. And now we have National Media coverage of an event that happened last week. We now have Otis, the Boxer. And the policeman and animal control warden who felt it necessary to taser the poor animal...twice.

I saw the blurp on the news, but was doing other things and didn't pay much attention to it. Then it was on the news again. And again. And again. And now it's world news.

Lakewood has (amid numerous objections from many of its residents) a 'Dangerous Dog Ordinance'.

If you own a Pitt Bull or a Canary Dog, Lakewood considers them to be 'dangerous dogs'. There is a grandfather clause in place for dogs of those breeds, but they must be registered as such for a $50 fee. No one within city limits can now own one, or any mix of one. Any 'dangerous' dog must be on a leash at all times and be muzzled if walking or out of it's home. If not, the city will round them up and destroy them.

So in a nutshell, this is what happened last week with the Boxer, Otis.

Otis's owner fell asleep.
Otis got out of a mislatched screen door.
Otis took himself for a walk.
A neighbor called the police.
The police called the animal warden.
The cop pulled a gun on the dog and then thought better of it. He was 'afraid the bullet may ricochet and hit something other than the dog.
The policeman tasered Otis.
The animal warden had the loop around Otis's neck.
And then Officer Terry Lowther proceeded to taser the dog...again.

As Otis was on the ground, whimpering, still and looped by animal control, the officer continued to taser the dog. Even as animal control dragged unconsciuos Otis over to his vehicle and tossed the dog in like a bag of trash. Only then did the officer stop using the taser gun. The policeman said the dog was 'aggressive'. The animal control warden had no comment. The video shows otherwise. Before Otis was tasered, he appeared nervous. Dog trainers have looked at the raw video and said that the dogs mannerisms do not show an aggressive dog, at all.

The video from the taser gun is disgusting. (You can watch it here if you'd like, warning: it's disturbing.)

The video shown initially on TV was just a portion of the raw footage. And it didn't have the sound. This is the video from the taser gun. You can hear the warden and officer calling , "here puppy, puppy" and yelling at the dog to "go home." No wonder the dog was confused. They can also be heard agreeing that neither knows what breed of dog Otis is. And then you hear the dogs cries of pain.

It's shameful.
And I live here.

WITH a dog that could be taken for a 'dangerous dog' since all the police and animal wardens seem to think ALL dogs have Pitt in them. Imbeciles.

In Lakewood, Ohio we have beautiful parks. But no one is allowed to walk their dogs in them. We have beautiful beaches, but dogs are not allowed to go to the water because they are not allowed on the beach in the parks.

It has become a non-pet friendly city. They stopped allowing dogs in the parks in 1973. The residents have started to petition to have that removed. The city says that it will cost too much money to post signs and waste stations, so they want it to remain in place.

But having this 'Dangerous Dog' ordinance just instills fear into people. They are beginning to automatically think that if it looks like a Pitt Bull, it is a Pitt Bull and it is vicious. Otis isn't even a Pitt Bull, he's a Boxer. The city wanted to destroy him. But they settled with the owner that Otis is just banned from living in the city. I own an American Bulldog, and now just because he has a big head, people automatically think he's a Pitt or has Pitt in him. That would qualify him by Lakewood standards to then be a dangerous dog and vicious animal.

Stuey is not vicious. Or mean.

It's not the breed of dog that's dangerous. It's the owners that raise dangerous dogs! I've met a few Chihuahua's that'll take your arm off. So if they ban Pitts, what's to say that they won't ban Bulldogs, or Labradors, or German Shepard's? Once they start doing this, it's a slippery slope. Who has the power to control it, and why wasn't the animal control employee able to identify correctly the breed before going to such extreme?

Granted the owner of Otis, Daniel Kier, has some explaining to do. Why didn't the dog have an identification tag. He wasn't a registered dog. But he wasn't a Pitt Bull either. So why then should he be banned from the city?

I recently watched from my car as some kids were hanging out on the sidewalk in front of a local park. They weren't doing anything. Just standing there. A police officer pulled his cruiser over because they had a dog with them. It's possible that the dog was a Pitt Bull, but looked like a boxer or bulldog to me. I watched as the officer made the kid show identification and talk with the officer for quite awhile. But he let them go.

Since this ordinance has been put into place, there have been many instances reported that the police are out looking for people with 'dangerous dogs' within city limits. There have been many others that have come forward and expressed concern because they felt harassed by police because of their dogs. Many have had their dogs DNA tested to prove that it isn't a pit bull terrier. Isn't that a case of guilty before proven innocent?

I have the Invisible Fencing system. I've had it for years and it works great. But since my dogs have the run of the backyard, who's to say that someone isn't going to come by while I'm gone and take my dog. He'd bark or growl like crazy if someone was aggressive with him, but he's really a little lover. Ask any of my friends.

The whole thing bothers me.

For instance, while out for a walk yesterday afternoon with my dogs several people stopped to ask their breeds. I'm used to it because both Sienna and Stuey are interesting, handsome dogs. And friendly. But the people today when they asked seemed wary of Stuey until I told them that indeed "he is not a Pitt Bull". Only then did the approach and were liberally drooled on.

So how long will it be before I have the police coming to my doorstep and asking for Stuey's identification papers. I have them all, he IS an American Bulldog, but it's the principal of the matter.

What do you think?
Should a city be able to ban certain breeds from city limits? Should an ordinance for Dangerous Dogs be in place?
And if you want a little drool, stop on over.
Stuey's got a lot to share.
What Can YOU Do?
If you are so inclined, below I have listed some contact information for some individuals in Lakewood, OH.
MayorEdward FitzGeraldMayor’s Office
12650 Detroit AvenueLakewood, Ohio 44107(216) 529-6600email –
City CouncilLakewood City Hall
12650 Detroit AvenueLakewood, Ohio 44107(216) 529-6055email:
The seven members of the city council include:
Kevin Butler – Ward 1(216) 221-7953email:
Thomas Bullock – Ward 2(216) 337-1318email:
Michael Summers – Ward 3(216) 228-6905email:
Mary Louise Madigan – Ward 4(216) 228-9578email:
Nickie J. Antonio – At Large(216) 221-4421email:
Michael Dever – President – At LargeHome (216) 221-6737email:
Brian E. Powers – At Large(216) 496-3238email:
Police ChiefTimothy J. Malley(216) 521-6773email:
Animal Control(216) 529-5020


  1. This story just broke my heart. You can see he's just standing there looking nervous.I guess there were dog trainers there who saw the whole thing. Even with that, they still banned him from the city.

    Thank God, they didn't put him down. And leave it to Channel 19 to post the video. I can't even watch it.

  2. About 3 years ago, our city looked into passing a dangerous dog ordinance. For some reason we had a rash of dog fighting rings operating here (haven't heard of one for a year or so. whew!). I don't know all the details, but I know it was going to include pit bulls, american bull dogs, shepherds and a couple other breeds. The rules were alot like your city's, except we also wanted the pet owner to carry liability insurance.

    Needless to say, the ordinance never came to fruition. I've always said that it's not the dog, it's the owner. Just like it's not the gun, it's the shooter.

    Sorry to hear your city is so dog-unfriendly.:(

  3. I remember a Dangerous Dogs Act being passed in the UK a few years back. Memory has it that they banned ownership of a few breeds rather than just making sure they were heavily monitored.

    Every single supposedly-dangerous breed I meet, the owner says they're gentle as anything. It's me, with my feral fox terrier straining to get off the leash and kill THEIR dog that they need to worry about!

  4. I am furious over this. I wish the police officer had been tasered so he could experience the same torture.. It makes me sick that people are so stupid. My daughter has a loving brindle boxer and her neighbors are freaked out about the "pit bull" that lives next door. I am writing a letter of protest to your your city manager and I am going to pass this along to every animal owner I know to do the same. I hope the ASPCA gets involved in this too. I may write them as well.

  5. I have linked this story to my blog.

  6. Sorry to be clogging up your comment section but here is a copy of the email I sent your mayor.

    Dear Mayor Ed Fitzgerald,

    I have learned of the story of Otis the Boxer and how your city police officer tasered this poor animal recently. It is shameful and digusting that an animal was treated in this fashion. It constitutes animal abuse. This dog was not attacking nor threatening the officer.

    Further it is wrong that your city has adopted such unfriendly dog rules. I understand there are vicious breeds but it appears your city is making all dog owners feel threatened. I hope you review this situation and consider new policies.

    Additionally I hope that your police officers are trained in how to handle non-trreatening dog situations. There are many animal advocates taking notice of your city right now. I hope you recognize the importance of how your city appears in light of this recent situation.

    Rae Hall

  7. OMG! What happened to that poor dog was criminal.
    He wasn't being aggressive at all so in my opinion, the police officers should be charged with animal abuse. I watched the video and felt sick to my stomach. How could anyone treat an animal so cruelly.

    I agree wholeheartedly with you. It's not the animals that should be classified as dangerous but their owners.

    I truly believe that the animal policies should be thrown out and the public (especially the officers) be educated.

    I have a heavy heart tonight thinking about Otis. I hope he's okay.

    Hugssssss, Susan

  8. WoW, That is just crazy in all ways. In the video, you can see the dog wagging its tail and barking, that is like saying hello to a stranger, not I want to tear you limb from limb. He did not show aggressiveness at all.

    The "officers" should have to go through the same punishment, heck even let a peer do it, pull the trigger and hold it, for the same amount of time. I am sure they would learn a lesson then.

    I am sure I will be blogging about it. I am sure I will write the mayor of your fine city.

    ugh - that really upsets me!

  9. @Chrissy - I KNOW! I saw an interview with the owner, and he was pretty accepting of the judgement. He's jusst glad they didn't destroy his dog. He said he was thinking about moving anyway. But still....

    @Theresa - I think that an ordinance that would be against ANY breed of dog that shows aggression or has hurt someone, but I don't agree that they can bulk it into a entire breed that should be banned. I don't remember them even having it on a ballot or talking about the implementation. How did they manage to put that through...

    @ Rae - Thanks for your letter. I added the office address and e-mails of all the city officials. Take up as much room as you want. Thanks so much for your support!!!

    @ Matthew - Ha! We call that little dog symdrome! I'm sure he could probably take Stuey doooowwwwwnnnnnnnn. :-)

    @ Susan - They haven't mentioned anything about the police officer or animal warden. I know at the hearing on Monday when they announced that they wouldn't destroy Otis that they asked the owner to sign something saying he wouldn't sue the city if they dropped the vicious dog charge. I read that with the agreement that Lakewood said they stand behind the officers judgement call to use the taser. The owner still has to answer for a loose dog. I think that there should be some sort of training put in place. As a dog owner, I feel the treatment of Otis was unacceptable.

    @Allen - Every time I watch the video it makes me even more angry. I worry about Stuey. I can't wait to see your blog on it. I think that the more people talk about this, maybe something might change! Thanks for getting involved!

    Thanks everyone!

  10. The idiot cop should be charged with animal abuse....I can't watch the video, your written words were enough to paint an ugly picture. The whole thing makes me sick. Ugh, the damn cop should be tasered, and I would love to be the one to do it...right in the balls!

    I'm lucky to live in a very friendly dog community. Our moto is, if you don't like dogs, don't move here.

  11. I live in the area, too. I was disgusted by the actions of these people on this poor dog. Thank you for posting this. [saw it on Rae's Weathervane]

    I'll write in, and will encourage some of my animal loving friends to do the same.

    Nice blog. I hung my mug on your wall. :-)

  12. Hi Nancy,
    Thanks for this post! I've blogged about this story since I first heard about shortly after it happened (thanks for your comment on my blog!) and have been up in arms about it since.

    I don't live in Lakewood thank God (NW OH), but as a dog lover who's parents introduced her to many dog breeds as a child, and who has had Boxers for over 25 years, I can say that unless their 'owner' is being threatened, you would be hard pressed to find a gentler breed of dog. Are they goofy? You betcha. Nosy? Absolutely. I watched (one of the most difficult things I've ever done, and I still want to cry just thinking about it) the video of Otis being tasered with sound. His barking before things went sour was the equivalent of a small child watching and saying "whatcha doing? huh? whatcha doin?". He was curious and wary (they were strangers after all and he was outside the comfort zone of his own home) but he simply, like a small child couldn't resist his curious nature.

    If the officers had taken the time to speak with Otis instead of AT him for just a moment, they would have gotten one of two reactions...he would have either run away, his insecurity finally winning over his curiosity, or he would have licked them to death. A terribly messy fate, but not at all painful I can assure you. Boxers love EVERYBODY!

    This whole incident was simply racial profiling (but with dogs) by ignorant men that took any excuse to inflict pain on an animal that had a 'look' that they felt threatened by. If Otis had been across the street they probably would have called him over and used the taser anyway. These men, and people like them make me sick.

    The rescue (one that I tithe to, Lighthouse Boxer Rescue) that is caring for Otis until his owner can take him back has had to pay for his neutering, vaccines, licensing (I could offer a few words about his owner as well!) and is already overflowing with homeless boxers that need homes and medical care. They could use your help as well.

    Sorry this is so long...I could go on, and on..

    Boston Terriers and Boxers by design

  13. This is very sad, I cannot bring myself to watch the video, it's sounds too disturbing. You are right, all this is doing is instilling fear in people. Your state sounds very beautiful, but I'm afraid I couldn't live there becuase our dogs go everywhere with us and I wouldn't want it any other way.

  14. Poor Otis! I couln't bring myself to watch the video but that's stupid! My neighbor has 2 Boxers and they are the sweetest animals ever! Unfortunately for pittbulls they were bred to attack originally and now they can't escape their past. That is so sad.

  15. Wow, this is incredibly frustrating and sad. Out here on the Vneyard, they are so dog-friendly that people comment when there isn't a dog wandering around. Dogs get loose and kill chickens, and the owners receive fines. But rarely are any further drastic measures pursued. This is crazy.
    Thanks for trying to shed some light on it!

  16. This is so sad and horrible. The province where I live (Ontario) has a pit bull ban in place - you can keep them if you already own one, but people are not allowed to breed them or purchase them - all because of a few bad instances. I agree that little dogs are typically far more aggresive than larger ones.

  17. That's one video I will not be viewing. It'll wind up playing like an endless loop all night long in my head. IMHO, it comes down to ignorance...pure and simple. People, brands and animals get labelled and it's hard to get ppl to "unlearn" them. If the avg person reads enough stories about killer pit bulls, they're gonna assume they're all dangerous. And if those same ppl don't know anything about dog breeds, they'll group all similar-looking dogs together. Sounds to me like someone in charge of that town/city has some canine issues...and I'll bet that officer was just DYING for the chance to use that taser. I'll also bet he's never owned a dog.

  18. Some cops need to be tasered themselves. And then fed to the dogs.

  19. What a damned bunch of effing idiots to pass ordnance like that. I love some dogs I know better than many people I'd rather not, so I find this behavior monstrous.

  20. This is awful! I watched the video & then wished I hadn't. One of the cities close to mine in Michigan just adopted a dangerous dog ordinance also. What they need to do is find the people who train these dogs to fight & do to them like they did to Otis. I live near Detroit, so a lot of the pit bulls are trained to be mean. It's the area & the stupid people that do this to the animals.

  21. Oh this is just horrible!! Poor little boxer, I have a boxer too and he has been my best friend for years.. This is just sad. I would seriously consider moving out of such an unfriendly place!! My dogs are such a part of the family!!

  22. @ Funny Girl - I like your towns motto! I'm going to try to change ours as well, otherwise I'll be renting a U-Haul!

    @Lille Diane - Thanks for your mug hanging! (love those) Thanks for stopping by and helping out. Stuey will save a big sloppy kiss for YOU!

    @Patti- Thanks for stopping by my site as well. Hopefully we can educate some individuals and make some changes! Thanks also for the link to the Boxer rescue sight! I am now part of that as well. If there is anything that I can do, please don't hesitate to ask! :-)

    @KrisGC - The video is very sad. It truly made me sick. I hope with all the coverage that the city will train their officers better. One of the commentors said that the officer was probably dying to use his taser and saw this as a good excuse to do so. Very Sad.

    @Senorita - It's is a shame that people now have automatic fear of anything that resembles a pitt. Boxers, bulldogs...but it then extends further. It really is a slippery slope and once started, I don't know if they'll be able to stop it. :-(

    @Dive Girl - Even a Canadian can sign the petition! Thanks for your support. How long as your ban been in place? Has there been any incidences like this up there?

    @Kathryn - It took me awhile to get the nerve to watch, but I felt I had to because of Stuey and it IS where I live. I agree with you about the officer....

    @Chris - I like it. Straight and to the point. THANKS!

    @ Chris Hoke - I concur! Cheers to the dogs!

    @Collette - I know. I felt the same way about the video. But maybe, just maybe some things might start to change. This isn't a news item that is going away here...much to the city's chagrin.

    @JW.BW - Thanks for stopping by. Amazing isn't it that the officer couldn't tell the difference between a boxer and a pitt bull? PLUS I've known some Pitts that are nicer than some humans! Particularly that officer...

    Thanks again to ALL who took the time to comment. If you'd like to follow this and sign the petition to stop the ban on dangerous breeds, click on the big nose at the top right!


  23. I am so damn mad right now that I'm in vicious mode and I would rather go up against a pitbull that HATED me than to go up against myself right now.

    Too many humans (humans?) are so damned inbred that they have no idea that dogs have feelings, personalities, and are the product of their insanely cruel OWNERS. They are starved and beaten for begging for food. They are abused and then beaten for acting mean.

    Because of the ones who made them be what the owners WANTED them to be, they are then abused by the very laws that protect their owners.

    I hope to hell that cop is fired and removed from all rights to his pension.

    Why is there not an ACLU for animals?

  24. That is a disgusting story. I love dogs, and there is no reason for something like that. You are absolutely right - it's not the dogs... it's the owners who train them to be vicious. Absolutely terrible.

  25. God this is heartbreaking. I have had boxers for years and hearing about a dog getting tasered because he was merely outside...UGH.

    This also pisses me off. We coudn't get Animal Control to intervene with our dbag neighbor who left his dog alone in the garage for one week and your AC is overboard the OTHER direction.

  26. That is one of the saddest things I've ever read. We have a pitbull/lab mix; someone was trying to breed super-strong fighting dogs and ended up getting super strong loveable dogs. Result: they dropped them all at the shelter. He looks "scary", but he's really just a marshmallow. I know what it's like to have everyone think you have a dangerous dog...and if that every happened to my pup I would lose it.

  27. Señorita Andalucíana said...

    Poor Otis! I couln't bring myself to watch the video but that's stupid! My neighbor has 2 Boxers and they are the sweetest animals ever! Unfortunately for pittbulls they were bred to attack originally and now they can't escape their past. That is so sad. okay, first of all, yes this is sad, but wtf is the matter with you? pit bulls were NOT bred to fight. only ignorant people who allow the media to control them think that. pits were bred to save people in war for the us army, and a few rescue organizations in search and rescue. its just that people have realized how strong they are and fought them like idiots. and also, they effectively managed to escape their past as lifesavers, or at least in most ignorant americans view.


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