Wednesday, June 30, 2010
it's not the breed...
It’s a face that constantly exudes abounding joy, uncompromising love, and unending slobber…usually delivered all at the same time.
I was surfing the internet the other night, trolling some of my favorite blogs, catching up on some news and a posting caught my eye. On lovelakewood.com, an update was given on some of the latest happenings in my city.
Lovelakewood is a great source of local information. Linked to the police blotter, it can keep you updated on all the crime in the area. The blog side of this site highlights some of the goings on in non-police pdf. blotter form. It's interesting stuff that usually doesn't get picked up by the news. This particular post listed all those with outstanding property taxes listed (amazing!). A lawsuit against Calanni Auto Service because they have a tendency to not return your car to you (incredible!). Police notified about several buildings stripped of the copper plumbing (unbelieveable!). A building demolished after being considered a neighborhood nuisance (so sad!).
But then in two lines, the author of this blog (who is a Lakewood resident as well), in a tongue in cheek way, managed to upset me with his coy delivery of an news item. I'm sure it was unintentional, but still upset me nonetheless.
I quote ‘There was another report of an 'it’s-not-a-pit-bull-it’s-an-american-bulldog' situation. Sounds familiar.’
Last year I wrote a blog post about Otis. I posted the video (which is hard to watch…) where the police tasered this dog. Several times. The City of Lakewood demanded Otis to be removed from the City limits or they would destroy the dog. The owner provided results of DNA testing showing that Otis was indeed not a pit bull. The City refused the findings. It made National headlines. People were riled up. The owner eventually made a deal with the city and moved away.
On March 19th, former Lakewood resident Lenard Shelton has brought a lawsuit against the city because he feels he was subjected to undue scrutiny and harassment from police when he would walk his dog. The police think it’s a pit bull. He claims it’s a Boston Terrier mix. He provided DNA testing to prove that his dog is not a pit and the city refused those results as well. He moved to a neighboring city. Why? Because of continued harassment and visits by police to his home threatening Mr. Shelton with criminal charges if he allowed his dog Rosco to remain in the city limits. He seeks $475,000 in damages.
There have been council meetings where residents have brought up that perhaps City of Lakewood employees should be schooled so they can identify, correctly, different breeds of dogs. The public safety guy was not pleased.
Lakewood banned pit bulls two years ago. Unless you lived here before that time and own a pit bull, you cannot register a dog with pit bull blood in any mix in the city. If you DO own a pit, you are required to provide a photo of your dog, copy of your homeowners liability insurance policy of not less than $100,000, provide proof that your dog has been micro-chipped, proof that your dog has been neutered or spayed, your dog must always be confined at all times and must be muzzled if walked in public. Oh, and the extra $50 for registering the dog.
All this is for dogs that have never had any history of violence.
506.03 PIT BULL dogs or Canary Dogs.
(a) All pit bull dogs and canary dogs (Perro de PresaCanario) are deemed to be dangerous animals even in the absence of a hearing by the Director of Public Safety or his or her designee.
(b) As used in this section, “pit bull dog” means any Staffordshire Bull Terrier, American Pit Bull Terrier or American Staffordshire Terrier breed of dog, any dog of mixed breed which has the appearance or characteristics of being predominately of such breeds, any dog commonly known as a piut bull, pit bull dog, or pit bull terrier; or a combination of any of these breeds.
(c) As used in this section “canary dogs” pr “Perro de PresaCanario Dogs” also include any dog of mixed breed which ahs the appearance of characteristic of bring predominatnly of such breed.
(d) In the event of a dispute as to whether a dog or not a dog is a pit bull dog, a canary dog, or some other breed, the Director of Public Safety or his or her designee shall make the determination without a hearing, and the burden of proof that such dog is not a put bull dog or canary dog shall be upon the owner or custodian.
The Director of Public Safety or his or her designee may hear and consider relevant evidence offered by any person desiring to provide such evidence at a hearing to determine whether or not an impounded or confined animal is a dangerous animal or a vicious animal.
In making a determination as to whether or not such animal is a dangerous animal or a vicious animal, the following evidence may be considered:
Any previous history of the animal attacking, biting or causing injury to human beings or domestic animals
The nature and extent of all injuries inflicted and the number of victims involved
The place where the bite, attack or injury occurred
The presence of absence of any provocation for the bite, attack or injury
The extent to which clothing or other property was damaged or destroyed
Whether or not the animal exhibits any characteristic of aggressive or unpredictable temperament or behavior in the presence of human beings or domestic animals
The manner in which the animal has been trained, handled and maintained by its owner or custodian
Any other relevant evidence concerning the animal
Any other relevant evidence regarding the ability of the owner or custodian or the City to protect the public safety if the animal is permitted to remain in the City
506.04 Exception, Registration and Fee
Any owner of a dangerous animal as defined in Section 506.03 on the effective date of the ordinance who intends to keep such dangerous animal within the City of Lakewood shall have 90 days, from the effective date of this ordinance, to register such dangerous animal with the Director of Public Safety or his or her designee. The fee for such registration shall be $50.00. Registration shall take place annually thereafter. Registration shall include providing the name and contact information of the owner of the dangerous animal, the location where the dangerous animal shall be kept, and any other information deemed necessary to ensure the safety of the public by the Director of Public Safety or his or her designee. Registration shall be rejected and the dangerous animal shall be removed from the City of Lakewood if the owner fails to show proof annually of compliance with the following conditions:
The dangerous animal must be implanted with a microchip, and the information contained on the microchip, must be maintained in a database by the Division of Animal Control along with a photograph of the animal
The animal must be spayed or neutered
The owner must obtain liability insurance for at least $100,000 for the entire period of registration
The animal, while on the premises of the owner or custodian, shall be confined indoors or in a securely enclosed pen or “dog run” with sides six feet high, imbedded at least one foot underground, and with a secured top
The animal, while off premises of its owner or custodian, shall be securely muzzled, leashed with a chain not longer than three feet (having tensile strength of not less than 300 pounds), under the control of a person eighteen years of age or older
Any government or utility company employee, and anyone else who comes on the property, shall be immediately informed of the animal’s dangerousness. The owner of the animal shall immediately notify the Director of Safety of any change made to the information on the registration
506.12 Disposition of Vicious Animals
Any animal designated by the Director of Public Safety or his or her designee, after a hearing, to be a vicious animal, if not already impounded by the City, shall be immediately surrendered to the Director of Public Safety or his or her designee, Animal Control Officer or a police officer.
Any animal declared by the Director of Public Safety or his or her designee, after a hearing, to be a vicious animal shall be humanely destroyed.
The Director of Public Safety or his or her designee shall issue an order authorizing the destruction of the vicious animal to take place not earlier than five days following the written decision by the Director of Public Safety or his or her designee designating the animal to be a vicious animal. If the owner or custodian of the vicious animal, within such period, files a notice of appeal of the Director of Public Safety or his or her designee’s decision with a court of competent jurisdiction, serves the Director of Public Safety or his or her designee with a copy of the notice of appeal and removes the animal from the City pending such appeal, the City shall stay the order of destruction, pending the appeal.
(Ord. 58-08. Passed 7-21-08.)
Lakewood is trying to become dog friendly. They recently have allowed people to walk their dogs in Lakewood Park. Lakewood Park is the main city park open to the public on the shores of Lake Erie. Since a council meeting back in 1973, dogs have not been allowed on park properties within the city limits. You can walk them on the sidewalks, but if you want to enjoy the park…leave your dog at home. No one has been able to determine why this was originally put into place. The council, when asked, would always support the ordinance because it was more cost effective for the city. It was “too expensive to put up signs and waste stations”.
Yet the city is in the process of a Clifton Boulevard revamp which will add a landscaped median (why?), improved lighting (no need), bus-coordinated traffic signalization (whoop de doo), new bus shelters (the ones there were put up 10 years ago and look fine), and a dedicated residential-side bus lane in each direction during rush hours. This is going to cost the city over $7-14 million dollars.
When asked about the need for medians, the answer was that would add a safety element to the roadway. It would give pedestrians a mid point to stop. No one I know has ever stopped halfway between a 7 lane thoroughfare. If you are crossing the street, you cross the street. Not stop in the middle for the next traffic light sequence! And if someone DID stop in the middle...don’t you think it would be distracting to drivers and create problems for the vehicles? Bah.
The most interesting part is that in each meeting about this beautifucation project, they stress over and over that ‘at this phase there is no expense for the City of Lakewood.’ Although if you go to see the budget planning, it shows that this study was indeed paid for already. To the tune of $765,000. Although again the refute the cost by saying it was from stimulus money. Really? We couldn’t do something else with three quarters of a million dollars except get a study to show us how to spend another 14 million?
I know, and I’m sure that everyone knows, no project is ever kept to budget. They started replacing pedestrian crosswalks with red brick. This was done at several stages. They would refinish the road with blacktop. Then come and cut the black top. They would then add the brick. Then the had to replace a sewer line and dug up both the brick and the pavement. They replaced the brick. They fixed the pavement. They are now adding these light poles which them damaged the brick and it has to be fixed again. When driving on the road it's uneven where it's been patched.
Does that make any sense?
Do the new Welcome to Lakewood signs really have to cost $10,000? Each? They want to replace all the current sandstone sidewalks. Granted, there are some that are in need a little repair…but it’s sandstone. It has character. It’s what all of Lakewood is about. Old with character. They are planning to remove and trash them all. Trust me, I once had an opportunity when they were diggin out some sandstone to do a repair I stopped to ask if I may have some that they were throwing away. They refused. He insisted that it HAD to be dumped into the dump truck, broken and trashed. ‘It was the policy.‘ he said. I’m sure that the city paid a pretty penny to have all that sandstone hauled out on a barge into Lake Erie and dumped as well. Why not let homeowners have their take at it and then dispose of the remainder? That would make sense.
But they would rather tear them all out and spend $810,000 (that's the estimate) to replace them with concrete. Supposedly this will help Lakewood remain in competition with it’s neighboring towns. Yes; Rocky River has a boulevard with a median. Yes; Bay Village has a median with plants. Yes; even Fairview Park has a median. Each of these cities had them in the first stages of city planning. They didn’t go to the expense of having this done after the fact. Especially during a recession. When unemployment still remains high, is it that necessary to spend $14 million of tax payers dollars? On a median and plants and new traffic lights and garbage cans and bus stops? On beautifucation?
If you go to the website, only 94 of the almost 55,000 people that live here commented in favor of this project.
But I’m on a tangent here. With all these project expenditures for the city, their excuse to not allow dogs into the park is “it’ll cost too much for signs”? Nonsense.
After the Otis incident, the council decided to do something to appease the upset pet owners in town. They did in fact put up signs and waste containers with bags for pet owners. It was never publicized. One day at the park I happened to see the sign. Prior to that viewing, I hadn’t a clue anything had changed.
“Hey Damian! I can NOW walk the dogs in the park!”
“Really? When did that change?”
“I haven’t any idea. But I saw the sign where I can leave the poo…if needed and took the pups in for a stroll. I DID get some nasty looks from others at the park. Apparently they don’t know you can walk your dogs here yet either.”
But it’s not just the cities view on dogs and dog breeds that has me again in an uproar. It’s the way people, like Mr. Davis, author of Lovelakewood.com present news that concerns dogs, dog owners and dog breeds. By putting ‘American Bulldog’ in the same negative connotation sentence with ‘Pit Bull’; people that don’t have knowledge of either breed first hand will automatically connect the two and thus think that an American Bulldog is vicious like a Pit.
Not all Pits are vicious. Nor are American Bulldogs.
It’s the Owners not the Breed that makes a dog vicious.
When buying or adopting a dog, people should be aware of the personalities of said dog they are bringing into their home. They should take into consideration their own personalities. If you are a couch potato and want a lap dog, do not get a working dog that needs extra exercise! If you want a dog to run and play Frisbee with, do not get a dog that is unable to physically carry out these tasks.
Dalmatian adoptions went sky-high when the Disney movie 101 Dalmatians was released in 1996. In 1997 and 1998 there was a dog pound glut of these dogs that their owners no longer wanted. In order to please their children, many people brought home these dogs not educated in how to care for a Dalmation. They abondonned them in shelters after becoming too big or too unruly. Sure the pups are adorable, but high energy and a bit skittish, they need lots of exercise and interaction. They didn’t think whether this breed would be a good fit for their household, they just liked the dogs ‘look’. When the movie 102 Dalmatians was released activists asked Disney to put a small statement at the beginning of the movie to discourage people from creating the same puppy glut that happened after 101 Dalmatians was in theaters.
I short term adopted my brothers puppy after the death of his wife. Arrow was a Border Collie. Extremely smart. Border Collies are herding dogs, they like to make sure they know where everyone is. I already had two big dogs (a Bovier and a Canadian Golden Retriever) so I knew that this 3 dog thing wasn’t going to last long, but I wanted to find a good home for Arrow.
When my parents were on vacation I told them I’d check in on the house. I took Arrow and Cameron (the golden) with me that afternoon. Cameron was a great dog, but he was one like in Assops fables where he lost his bone in the stream trying to get the bone from the dog reflection IN the stream. I was on the phone in the upstairs hallway, sitting and chatting with a friend that had called knowing I was in town. Both dogs had big bones to keep them busy. Cameron would routinely stop chewing on his bone and go over, push aside Arrow (who was a ¼ his size) and take his bone. Arrow would patiently give his bone up and then go over, take the original bone Cameron had and start chewing. Cameron after a time would then go over and push aside Arrow, take his bone and lay down. This happened about three times when finally as Cameron approached Arrow, Arrow ran to the top of the stairs and tossed the bone down the staircase. Cameron went lumbering down after the fallen bone, Arrow turned and grabbed the other one and laid down happily chewing away.
Had I not seen the “FACE!” that Arrow gave the bigger, yet obviously less intelligent dog….I wouldn’t have believed it. “You want the bone, dummy? Go get it.” You could see it in Arrows eyes what he thought of this big dumb dog. It was priceless.
I want to protect MY American Bulldog. He is not a pit bull and I hate that people are prejudicing him.
Yes; he has a big head. Yes; he can be intimidating if you are afraid of dogs. Yes; he will slobber on you if you allow him too. But my cat is more ferocious than my dog. My dog can’t sleep at night if he isn’t tucked under the blankets just so. He’s a big baby, my American Bulldog. So I would appreciate it if people like Anthony Davis not use his name in a counterproductive way.
I couldn’t find any thing on the internet to substantiate the news of ‘it’s-not-a-pit-it’s-an-American-Bulldog‘. I’d like to know more. I e-mailed him with no reply as of yet.
In the meantime, I’m off for a walk with the pups. They have brought me their leashes and are ready. After my vent here….I’m ready as well.
Maybe we will stroll through Lakewood Park since we can. I dare anyone to stop and ask me if Stuey is a Pit Bull. Now would not be the time. I might fill their ears...
If you’d like to sign the petition to change the ban on certain breeds; you may do so here. And also here.
Remember: It’s not the breed…it’s the owners.
This is interesting! My friend Karl sent this to me...do you think YOU can identify a Pit Bull? Take this test. I dare you! :-)
Postscript: I just received further identifying information about the news bit Mr. Davis wrote about on his post in lovelakewood.com. From the police media log report:
Animal - miscellaneous
6/16 at 4:48 p.m. at 15524 Detroit - Ross Deli
Out with two females who possibly have pit bulls.
Teresa A Gurthrie of 1249 Lakeland was walking two dogs that appear to be pit bulls. She claims
they are American Bulldogs. One is a 4-year-old male. It is white in color and is named Romeo. The
second is a 6-month-old female. It is white and brown and is named Ania. Animal warden notified for follow-up
I've met Romeo and his owner Teresa. Their street is just over from ours, so they regularly walk in front of our house. One time I walked out to meet them as Romeo looks very similar to Stuey. He's a bit smaller and not quite as handsome, but his eye patch is the same but on the other eye. He is very much an American Bulldog. As a owner of one, there are similarities that are quite glaring to be able to tell the difference. Ross's Deli is just walking distance from here. My daughter and her friends like to ride their bikes over and buy penny candy. Now knowing this information that Teresa was just out for a walk with her dogs not far from her home and was stopped and now has to prove to the animal warden her digs DNA? That troubles me even further! Do I ned to start carrying Stueys papers with me when we go out walking? Romeo is a very mild mannered dog. Lathargic actually when you approach him. So it's quite obvious to me that the officer wasn't responding to anything he/she saw aas a threat, just a random stop of a pedistrian with her dogs?
Looks like I should stop all gardening and house projects and call a realtor instead...