Canton, OH- Canton May Designate American bulldogs as Vicious Animals
September 14, 2008
CANTON- Mindy Morris says her American bulldog is a lovable pooch who loves the postman and the ladies.
She says the dog is far from vicious. Morris' boss allows her to take Remy into the office, where he socializes with two Great Danes and plays tug of war with a Chihuahua. And he's playful with children.
So Morris was upset when she learned Canton City Council is proposing to designate American bulldogs as dangerous or vicious animals. The city already includes pit bulls in the group, a change approved last year, requiring $100,000 in liability insurance for pit bull owners. Pit bulls also must be walked on a leash while muzzled. If approved by council Monday, the same requirements would apply to American bulldogs, including restricting the dogs to backyards with 6-foot fences when they are outside.
"Tears came to my eyes," Morris said of learning the city's proposal.
"I know there's bad dog owners out there," she said Friday. "They're everywhere, but I don't feel I should be penalized."
"He is intimidating, there's no doubt," Morris said of Remy, a muscular dog who weighs roughly 115 pounds. Remy is not confrontational with other dogs, she said.
"They are protective of kids," Morris said of American bulldogs. "They're protective of family; they're very loyal to their (owners). I baby him, and they long to be babied."
COUNCIL EXPECTED TO VOTE
Councilman Greg Hawk, D-1, introduced the proposed legislation that would add the American bulldog — full-blooded or mixed breed — to the existing dangerous or vicious animal law. The amendment would not ban American bulldogs — pit bulls are not banned, either.
Hawk initiated the legislation after hearing concerns about American bulldogs from the Northwest Neighborhood Rebirth Association.
The legislation is up for a vote at Monday's City Council meeting at 7:30 p.m. at City Hall at 218 Cleveland Ave. SW in downtown Canton. Anyone wishing to comment on the issue must sign up no later than 7:15 p.m. Monday.
Dave Lutyen, president of the Northwest Neighborhood Rebirth Association, said regulations on American bulldogs would be an "added precaution."
Lutyen, who has Russian wolfhounds, doesn't want to ban any breed. Irresponsible dog owners are the issue.
"I don't think these dogs are particularly vicious dogs," Lutyen said. "I think they have the ability to cause a lot of damage."
Members of the neighborhood association have complained about pit bull owners not following the existing vicious animal ordinance. The owners, however, said the dogs are American bulldogs, Lutyen said. "We were trying to address the pit bull situation, and then the American bulldog cropped up," he said.
The Stark County Dog Warden's Office investigated about seven dog complaints in the Northwest Neighborhood Rebirth Association's area, identifying most of the dogs as pit bulls and a few as American bulldogs, said county Dog Warden Evert Gibson.
According to bulldogbreeds.com, American bulldogs can work as a hog and cattle catching dog and a protector of personal property. "These tasks require a powerful, agile, confident dog with a large head and powerful jaws," the Web site says. "The American bulldog is a gentle, loving family companion who is fearless enough to face an angry bull or a human intruder," and is good with children and pets.
Local hospitals file dog bite reports with the Canton Health Department. Bite victims supply the information and identify the breed of dog. Not all of the victims require hospitalization, according to the health department. Here are the top 10 breeds for bites in Canton from 2005 to the present:
1. pit bull — 89
2. German shepherd (including police dogs) — 68
3. mutt — 50
4. rottweiler — 33
5. Labrador — 25
6. chow chow — 20
7. boxer — 14
8. sharpay — 13
9. beagle — 12
10. Chihuahua — 10