For over a decade, dog lovers in Lakewood, Ohio, one of the biggest suburbs of Cleveland, have been fighting to get pit bulls off the list of banned breeds.
In April, they won. It's now legal to own a pit bull inside Lakewood. The dogs had previously been considered "dangerous" automatically because of their breed -- which meant that they couldn't be owned unless their owners followed a series of prohibitive steps, including making sure the dog was identified publicly as dangerous wherever it was. For many, the restrictions were as good as an outright ban -- and they felt it was unfair to a breed that they believe is unjustly maligned.
Now, the law has been changed. Only dogs that have actually injured or killed someone are considered dangerous and subject to restrictions. For pit bull lovers, that's a victory.
Unfortunately, that victory may actually put residents in danger.
While many people contend that it "isn't the dog but how the dog is raised" that makes one dangerous or not, there's a lot of evidence that pit bulls are more inclined to vicious attacks than other breeds. Despite the beliefs of some, the stereotype of the "vicious pit bull" started for a reason.
A five-year study involving dog attacks found that pit bulls were responsible 51 percent of injuries. The closest second on the list were Rottweilers, who produced nine percent of all injuries. Another study, one that covered 15 years and examined fatal dog bites in Kentucky, found the pit bull to be one of three breeds behind the largest part of all fatalities. Finally, a third study found that attacks from pit bulls were more likely to result in fatalities than any other breed.
Given the enthusiasm that some people have for the breed despite its issues, residents in the area can expect to see pit bulls in their neighborhoods now that the restrictions are gone. That makes it especially wise to exercise extreme caution if you encounter a loose dog -- and to steer clear if you want to avoid a serious dog bite injury.
Source: American City & County, "Pit bull-specific prohibitions end in several cities," Jason Axelrod, April 18, 2018