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Thursday, June 7, 2012

Vicious Pit Bull Dogs and Irresponsible Owners



Although pit bulls are no longer considered inherently vicious in the state of Ohio, a new ordinance (May 2012) in Portsmouth, Ohio says all pit bulls in the city have to be confined as though they were vicious. The ordinance says this is “due to the disproportionate number of documented ‘pit bulls’ running at large, complaints, and documented attacks on domestic animals and people.”

This ordinance was passed as a matter of insuring public safety out of growing concern that pit bulls can be especially vicious. In August 2011, a woman and her 14-month-old daughter were staying with relatives on Campbell Street in Portsmouth when they were attacked by three of their relatives' pit bulls. That same year, another woman had a pit bull that was put down after it got loose and injured a man and the dog he was walking. Animal control picked the dog up and discovered the owner didn't have insurance for him, so the dog was later euthanized.

Here is the "confinement" section of the city ordinance. The keeping of vicious dogs shall be subject to the following standards:

This photo scares the hell out of me.


505.14 VICIOUS DOGS.


1) CONFINEMENT.


When vicious dogs are not under the physical control of their owner, all vicious dogs shall be securely confined indoors, in a securely enclosed and locked pen or kennel, or in a fenced in yard with a locked gate. Such fenced in yard must be equipped with a six (6) foot high fence, or that of adequate height determined by the Portsmouth City Animal Control Officer. The fence must be equipped with a locked gate. If said fence is not sufficient in height or strength to keep vicious dogs from running at large, the vicious dog must be kept in a pen or kennel that meets the following standards:


(a) The pen or kennel must have secure sides and a secure top attached to its sides.

(b) Such structure must have a secure bottom of floor attached to the sides of the pen, or the sides of the pen must be embedded in the ground to a depth of no less than two (2) feet.

(c) The fencing for such structure must be at least 14 gauge fencing wire.

(d) All structures used to confine such animals must be locked with a key or combination lock when such animals are within the structure.

(e) No structure may violate any Codified Ordinances of the City of Portsmouth, Ohio.

2) CONFINEMENT INDOORS.


No vicious dog may be kept on a porch, patio, or in any part of a house or structure that would allow the dog to exit such building on its own volition. In addition, no such dog may be kept in a house or structure where window screens or screen doors are the only obstacles preventing the dog from exiting the structure.

3) CONTROL OF VICIOUS DOG.


No person shall permit a vicious dog to go outside of its kennel, pen, or the owner’s residence unless such dog is securely leashed with a leash not longer than four (4) feet in length. No person shall permit such a dog to be kept on a chain, rope, or other type of leash outside its kennel or pen unless a person is in and able to maintain physical control of the animal at all times. Such dogs may not be leashed to inanimate objects such as trees, posts, buildings, etc.

(My note: Require a muzzle?)


4) While not being classified as vicious, due to the disproportionate number of documented “pit bulls” running at large complaints and documented attacks on domestic animals and people, ALL dogs that meet the definition of “pit bulls”, as stated in section (e) of this ordinance, must be confined as stated in section (c) of this ordinance.


(e) DEFINITION.

”Pit Bull Dog” is defined for purposes of this Section to mean the Bull Terrier breed of dog, the American Staffordshire Terrier breed of dog, dogs of mixed breed or other breeds which breed or mixed breed is known as Pit Bulls, PitBull Dogs or Pit Bull Terriers, and any dog which has the appearance and characteristics of being predominantly of the breeds of Bull Terrier, Staffordshire Bull Terrier, American Pit Bull Terrier, American Staffordshire Terrier, and other breed commonly known as Pit Bulls, Pit Bull dogs, or Pit Bull Terriers, or a combination of any of these breeds. The Portsmouth City Animal Control Officer shall make the final determination of whether the dog meets the definition of a “pit bull dog."

I think it's pretty simple to understand the ordinance. Here is a Guide for Dummies owning a pit bull in the city limits of Portsmouth. You can get a copy of the ordinance to read about insurance identification and reporting requirements, enforcement, and failure to comply.

Guide For Dummies: Controlling a "Pit Bull Dog"


1. Have you dog identified by the Portsmouth City Animal Control Officer. If the officer says you have a "pit bull dog," then your dog is under all the requirements for City Ordinance 505.14 Vicious Dogs.


2. Meet all of the requirements in the ordinance if you have a "pit bull dog" including:


a. Securely confining your dog inside your residence. (Remember, sometimes the public enters your home.)


b. Securely confining your dog outside your residence in a pen or in a kennel with 6' high walls and 14 gauge fencing wire, a top securely attached to the sides of the walls, a secure bottom embedded in the ground at least 2 feet, and a lock with a key or combination lock.


c. Never keeping your dog on the porch, patio, house with screens, or anywhere the dog could possibly escape on its own.


d. If you do take your dog outside on a leash, the leash must be NO LONGER THAN 4', and YOU MUST ALWAYS BE IN FULL PHYSICAL CONTROL OF THE ANIMAL AT ALL TIMES. "PHYSICAL" means no tying the dog to another object like a tree, fence, etc.


3. REMEMBER, IT IS UP TO YOU, THE OWNER, TO MAINTAIN FULL CONTROL OF THE "PIT BULL DOG."


For the sake of everyone, control a pit bull. Arguments about discrimination against a species of dog will not help a victim of an attack. The truth of the matter is that any vicious dog must be restrained and controlled with utmost care. That responsibility falls to the adult owner of the dog, not to "so-called" trusted neighbors, family, or children. And, certainly, not to the general public who occupy living spaces and public areas in close proximity to the dog(s).
I honestly believe a "pit bull dog" can be gentle and kind, but it represents a real risk to the public that requires very special attention from the owner. 


The Pit Bull Dog


Here are some facts about the pit bull breed:

Pit bulls are large dogs with tremendous strength and have powerful jaws. Unlike most other dog breeds, when pit bulls bite down, they shake their heads violently, causing internal damage to organs and bones. Pit bulls also have the jaw power to sever limbs with their bites. Pit bulls often go for the face and neck, crushing the throat and tearing out veins. Once an attack has started, even the dog’s owner or handler will have difficulty regaining control of the dog. When more than one pit bull attacks, it stimulates the “pack drive” in the dogs and most victims of a multiple pit bull attack will be severely maimed or killed.

Here are some particular dangers concerning the pit bull breed:

"Pit bulls are noteworthy for attacking adults almost as frequently as children. This is a very rare pattern: children are normally at greater risk from dog bite because they play with dogs more often, have less experience at reading dog behavior, are more likely to engage in activity that alarms or stimulates a dog and are less able to defend themselves when a dog becomes aggressive. Pit bulls seem to differ behaviorally from other dogs in having far less inhibition about attacking people who are larger than they are. They are also notorious for attacking seemingly without warning, a tendency exacerbated by the custom of docking pit bulls’ tails so that warning signals are not easily recognized. Thus, the adult victim of a pit bull attack may have had little or no opportunity to read the warning signals that would avert an attack from any other dog." (Michael Webber, "Pit Bulls: To Ban or Not To Ban?" Rochester Media, January 5 2011)

According to DogsBite.org, between January 1, 2006 and December 31, 2008, “Of the 88 fatal dog attacks recorded by DogsBite.org, pit bull type dogs were responsible for 59%.

This is equivalent to a pit bull killing a U.S. citizen
 every 21 days during this three-year period.

The data also shows that pit bulls commit the vast majority
of off-property attacks that result in death.

Only 18% of the attacks occurred off owner property,
yet pit bulls were responsible for 81%.

         
Three-year-old Madasyn McAllister is recovering from a dog bite to the face. 
Her family says she received the bite June 3, 2012 in Wayne Hills, Portsmouth, Ohio.
In this photo submitted by her mother, Tammy Miller,
3-year-old Madasyn recovers from the dog bite,
in which a pit bull nearly bit off her nose, the family claims.
(This photo breaks my heart.)
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