NEWARK, Ohio (WCMH) – The fate of pit bulls and their owners are on the line tonight.
In Newark, city council members are considering whether to amend a city ordinance that classifies pit bulls as a vicious breed.
People are passionate on both sides of this debate. Some say the community is safer keeping pit bulls designated as a vicious breed. Other say the law should be changed to be more behavior based, rather than breed specific.
Skip Swendryck is the owner of two pit bulls, Puppy and Sadie.
“I really hope the vote passes. It’s time,” he says. “I feel like the ordinance is out of date and I feel like if you are a responsible owner of a dog I don’t feel like they should be deemed vicious unless they’ve done something to get that name.”
Currently, pit bulls in Newark are automatically considered vicious. To shed the vicious label, the dogs have to go through obedience training and pass a canine good citizen test.
Pit bulls, specifically, also have to have special tags, a micro-chip, among other things. Plus, the owner has to purchase liability insurance. Swendryck says these additional requirements are expensive, costing him about $600-$700 extra per pit bull, per year.
“I don’t think it’s the breed at all I think it’s how people raise them really,” he says,
Swendryck says back in 2014 his dogs got loose. They went out through the back gate after his mother forgot to close it.
Both Swendryck and his mother were charged with two first-degree misdemeanors for failure to confine a dangerous/vicious dog and failure to register them.
“I didn’t think it was a big deal at first kind of blew it off and then I went to court and they told me 20 days in jail or three years of probation,” he says.
Swendryck says his dogs were later found playing with children. He says he spent 10 days in jail for the charges.
“Once I found out how serious it was and everything I put them all through their classes, got them all registered. I got all their shots up-to-date, extra rabies shots put them through obedience class,” he says.
He says a few bad owners give pit bulls a bad name. Tonight, he’s hoping the ordinance passes.
“They’re good dogs; they’re loving. They’re loyal,” he says.
Alderman At-Large Bill Cost Jr., says he thinks the amendments to the current law needs more discussion before moving forward.
“I’d like to see the penalties to be a little bit stricter for all dogs,” he says.
He says he’d vote against the changes tonight.
“I would just like to see there be very, very safe standards for all animals and we want to try to base this information on all dogs not just one breed,” he says.
Carol Floyd, 7th Ward council member says she voted against the changes to the ordinance last year and will do the same tonight.
She says she’s heard too many horror stories about pit bulls hurting others and says keeping breed specific laws are safer for the entire community.
Tonight’s city council meeting begins at 7pmWhat others are clicking on: