Cuyahoga County Council Vice President Sunny Simon is proposing a countywide law that would force all pit bulls to be spayed or neutered. Ms Simon statues the purpose of her proposal is to “discourage dog fighters from breeding and selling pit bulls for sport.” Obviously since dog fighters are already breaking the law, any such ordinance would only affect responsible, law abiding citizens.
Public hearings will be held this summer before officially introducing pit bull legislation.
Regardless of your position on spaying and neutering of pets, it is important to remember that any law that applies to one breed or grouping of dogs involves the practice of breed profiling and is breed specific legislation. Breed specific MSN is fraught with the many problems associated with BSL, and opens the door for future additional breed restrictions.
Please contact the Cuyahoga County officials and politely and respectfully encourage them to vote down this proposal and seek a solution that does not single out one breed of dog. Suggested alternatives can be found here.
Cuyahoga County Council
1219 Ontario Street -Room 424
Cleveland, Ohio 44113
Online contact form: http://council.cuyahogacounty.us/en-US/contact.aspx
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Cuyahoga County Council member proposes requiring pit bulls to be sterilized
Published: Thursday, May 31, 2012, 4:00 PM
CLEVELAND, Ohio — A Cuyahoga County councilwoman is again testing the limits of charter government, this time proposing a countywide law that would force all pit bulls to be sterilized.
Council Vice President Sunny Simon — who also has suggested charging a 5-cent fee on all plastic grocery bags in the county — plans to hold a hearing this summer before officially introducing pit bull legislation.
Simon said she wants to discourage dog fighters from breeding and selling pit bulls for sport, in the wake of the state dropping a provision that automatically labeled pit bulls as “vicious,” a designation that placed restrictions on owners.
“Breeders were underground,” she said. “Now they can outwardly, easily breed them more prolifically, without restriction. I believe it’s important that we curb this, the cycle of breeding and selling and fighting of these dogs.”
The plastic bag proposal is on hold, so the pit bull measure could become the 17-month-old council’s first attempt to impose a law on the county’s 57 municipalities, some of which ban pit bulls.
The county charter only vaguely grants the 11-member elected body powers to pass ordinances “relating to all matters within the legislative power of the county.”
Attorney Eugene Kramer, who wrote the charter, isn’t sure the council can override the home-rule powers of cities.
But county Law Director Majeed Makhlouf said council has the authority to pass far-reaching laws, since the charter gives the county all the powers of Ohio municipalities.
“If a municipality can do it, we can do it,” Makhlouf said.
The final say might be left to the courts, if opponents challenge the pit bull legislation.
Simon has not yet worked out how a pit bull law would be.
Another potential snag is uncertainty about what constitutes a pit bull. What are commonly referred to as pit bulls could be American Pit Bull Terriers, American Staffordshire Terriers, Staffordshire Bull Terriers or dogs that just look like those breeds.
When those breeds or look-a-likes end up in shelters, Simon said, as many as 90 percent of them are killed, whether they’re vicious or not. Shelters don’t have room to keep all the pit bull strays.
Similar spaying and neutering requirements are on the books in San Francisco and other California cities.
The Ohio Dog Wardens Association supports Simon’s pit bull proposal, which would require pit bull breeders to be licensed.
“It’s definitely something to try,” said Matt Granito, president of the association. “We’re seeing more and more irresponsible breeders, coming out with more aggressive dogs.”
But the national Association for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals opposes mandatory spay/neuter laws in part because they can discourage owners from registering for dog licenses. The local nonprofit, For the Love of Pits, calls the proposal discrimination, arguing it won’t work anyway.
Klein said the irresponsible breeders won’t follow the law anyway. She would like to focus instead on educating people about responsible pet ownership.
“We’re just now making things better for pit bull owners, and now she’s proposing another breed-specific law,” said Shana Klein, president and founder of For the Love of Pits. “What are the police going to do, stop every pit bull owner and what?”