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Councilman notes Avon Lake dog laws aren't breed-specific

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AVON LAKE — Councilman David Kos is proud of the dog laws enacted in his city and was dismayed to hear local news reports about a pit bull controversy in Lakewood alleging that that city’s laws were based on what was passed in Avon Lake.

“I take exception that Lakewood is stating that (their dog law) is based on Avon Lake’s law primarily because our law does not have breed-specific legislation,” Kos said. “The law they’re proposing has breed-specific language, and we went out of our way to not have that in.”

Breed specific legislation, or BSL, as defined by the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, is the blanket term for laws that either regulate or ban certain dog breeds in an effort to decrease dog attacks on humans and other animals. Typically, the regulated breed is a pit bull-type of dog, though other breeds can be included.

Lakewood, which has a ban on pit bulls, made headlines when city officials ordered a family to remove their dog Charlie that animal control deemed was a pit bull. Initially Charlie’s adoption from the Cleveland Animal Protective League was approved by the city, and Charlie has shown no signs of aggression.

After gaining public attention, the city proposed a new dog law. Lakewood Law Director Kevin Butler said the city did base some of its dog ordinances on Avon Lake’s dog law, but it added a section regarding pit bulls and canario dogs.

Kos said Avon Lake avoided that kind of legislation.

“I oppose breed-specific legislation or any attempt to link BSL to our ordinance,” he said.

He said the city saw a push for legislation addressing pit bulls a few years ago.

“It was bad,” he said. “We had two incidences with pit bulls, and people were pushing for BSL.”

Kos said he wanted a more innovative law that would treat all dogs the same. The result is what he calls one of the toughest, but still fair, dangerous-dog ordinances that hold owners responsible for their dogs’ actions and not the breed.

Kos said he saw Lakewood was having the same controversy with the breed and reached out via email last September to Lakewood Council President Sam O’Leary but received no response.

O’Leary said Monday in an email that he appreciated Kos’ offer, but he did not draft the proposed ordinance.

Kos said the offer still stands to help Lakewood with its dog ordinance.

Contact Cindy Breda at 329-7126 or cbreda@chroniclet.com.



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