Leading Animal Law Expert: Repeal Parma’s Breed-Specific Pit Bull Ban, Adopt Breed-Neutral Dog Control Law Instead

Pittie Me!

Cities are trending towards humane, more effective solutions dealing with aggressive dogs. The purpose of this article outlines reasons to repeal Parma’s existing pit bull ban at the polls on May 7. It’s also a rebuttal to the article “Your Neighbor Was Attacked” in last month’s edition of Parma Observer. Rather than denying the pain and suffering described in the dog attack from last month’s article, residents should consider that repealing the existing pit bull ban would actually make way for a safer, more comprehensive ordinance.

According to attorney/animal law expert Dana Pannella of Holland & Muirden, “Breed bans are ineffective, and the city should vote to repeal the ban in favor of adopting strong breed-neutral dog control laws.” Pannella, who crafted Avon Lake’s breed-neutral dog control law, knows pit bulls are here, regardless of being banned. She says, “It’s virtually impossible to identify a dog by breed, but it is possible to identify one by behavior, sometimes long before a bite ever happens.” Referring to an article in the International Journal of Pediatric Otorhinolaryngology (2019), which Pannella says is one of the most comprehensive studies she has seen, she says, “It examines head/neck dog bites and the prevalence by breed. The authors basically conclude you can’t make the analysis by breed. Instead, they use the dog’s head-shape and weight. This is why breed bans are ineffective.” In simpler terms, if the breed can’t be identified, the bite can’t be prevented, making breed-specific bans like Parma’s pit bull one useless. Also, Pannella adds, “You can identify the behavior.” That would make a breed-neutral law smarter.

And that’s where a breed-neutral dog control law comes in. These are comprehensive, including definitions for “nuisance,” “dangerous” and “vicious” dogs, and outline processes for their classification. They outline specific responsibilities for owners, including signage, restraint on and off property, age restrictions and obedience/behavior modification requirements. Pannella says the author of the article in last month’s Parma Observer “didn’t know there was a dangerous dog in his backyard because the state’s dangerous dog law is ineffective.” She adds, “It doesn’t require ‘warnings’ or ‘signs’ that read: ‘BEWARE DANGEROUS DOG.’ Common sense dog laws do this, and more.”

Parma’s existing pit bull ban is ineffective, discriminatory, and actually decreases public safety compared to a breed-neutral model.

Vote to repeal the pit bull ban in Parma.

Avon Lake’s behavior-based dog control law, known as the “Post-Bite” ordinance, written by attorney Dana Pannella: https://www.avonlake.org/residents/dog-legislation

Lucy McKernan

Animals first

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Volume 11, Issue 5, Posted 7:35 AM, 05.01.2019