Parma Discrimination

I am Vice President of Animal Guardians for a Prosperous Parma. We are a group of concerned and compassionate individuals, coming together to urge the Parma Administration not to prohibit specific dog breeds.  This practice is not ensuring public safety, but rather encouraging a false sense of security for Parma residents.

Through the gathering of facts and evidence to further our cause, I've come across multiple residents and even City Council members who are basing their decisions upon reports found online through the unreliable and debunked website of's goal was not public education or anything that she claims it to be about now. It was about enacting breed specific legislation even though she has no credentials to propose legislation like that with any basis of expertise. And make no mistake, all of the expert organizations disagree with her idea on breed-specific legislation.

Every mainstream national organization that is involved in canine/human interactions is opposed to laws targeting specific breeds of dogs. A partial list of these organizations includes:

  • American Dog Owners Association  
  • American Humane
  • American Kennel Club (AKC)
  • American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA)
  • American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA)
  • American Working Dog Federation
  • Association of Pet Dog Trainers
  • Best Friends Animal Society
  • Center for Disease Control
  • Humane Society of the United States (HSUS)
  • International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants
  • International Association of Canine Professionals
  • National Animal Control Association
  • National Animal Interest Alliance
  • National Association of Dog Obedience Instructors
  • National Canine Research Council
  • No Kill Advocacy Center 
  • The White House

These groups represent the best of the best in the United States for dog trainers, rescues, shelters, animal behaviorists, government entities, veterinarians, and even animal control officers. All of them oppose breed specific legislation, in large part, because they have experience working with the actual dogs, read the science, and realize that aggression is not a breed-specific issue. The reality is that most dogs, regardless of breed, do not show aggressive behavior and yet, some dogs, of each breed, have.

All recommend dog ordinances that focus on the behaviors of the actual dogs and not on its body type. Not listening to the professional organizations, but rather, listening to an "organization" that has no expertise, is a disservice to those of us focused on the best interest of public safety.

We (Animal Guardians for a Prosperous Parma) and a multitude of other groups have been presenting credible facts at every City Council meeting since the beginning of November 2013.

Our most recent gathering before Council and Administration was at a Parma Safety Committee Meeting on February 10th, whereas we had a Government Affairs Consultant from Best Friends Animal Society, Lori Kershner, come forth to disclose further facts as to why breed specific legislation is non-effective. Lori was instrumental in getting HB14 passed in Ohio to remove pit bulls from the vicious and dangerous breed list.

The Parma Administration is adamant on keeping pit bull type animals out of Parma. They refuse to provide any factual data to support their decision. Mayor DeGeeter has only addressed our group one time. He stated that in an April 2012 publication, the Administration stated their position and stand by that decision. What he is referring to is: “The ban has been successful,” DeGeeter said. “In my recent memory I don’t recall hearing about any pit bull attacks. I think that’s due to our ordinance.”

However, let me point out that during this meeting, Safety Director Baeppler disclosed a pit bull attack happening in Parma on February 7th. He did NOT disclose that the incident involved Parma residents trying to introduce an abandoned and unfamiliar pit bull to their resident American Bulldog, in the American Bulldog's home.  This resulted in a fight between the two dogs.   When the couple tried to break up the fight, they were ultimately bitten by BOTH dogs. This situation can happen with ANY breed and proper precautions should have been made to prevent this situation from even occurring. Sadly, the blame was once again placed upon the pit bull, who was set up to fail from the very beginning, and was ultimately euthanized while the American Bulldog was allowed to return home.

This contradicts Mayor DeGeeter's previous statement. It also proves that pit bulls are and always have been present in Parma, regardless of the ordinance. This further proves that the ordinance is unenforceable.

While we are not immune to recognizing injuries caused by dog bites, we want to educate the public that ALL breeds have a tendency to bite. To state that a pit bull type dog can cause a more serious injury than another breed has been scientifically proven untrue. Aggression is not hereditary. We have compassion for ANY person who has endured a dog bite, regardless of breed.

To ban a specific breed of dog is discriminatory. It discriminates against responsible dog owners. Irresponsible dog owners should be held responsible for damages caused by their dogs. To put this into perspective, when an irresponsible person gets behind the wheel of a car, while intoxicated, and causes injury to an innocent person, do we take all the cars away from the responsible drivers?  No. Legal action is taken against the irresponsible person. Why is this any different than irresponsible dog owners?

Data shows that Parma has had a "recorded" dog bite record of 875 from 2002-2013. Please note that all dog bites are not recorded nor reported. That averages to approximately 7 dog bites per month. Only 3 of these dog bites were allegedly described as pit bull type dogs.  If the pit bull ban is working in Parma and creating a safe environment for the residents, then why are our bite records so extremely high?

We invite individuals to visit our website: and read the facts that we provide and can be substantiated by experts.

Thank you,
Denise Geschwender

Denise Geschwender

Denise Geschwender

Vice President

Animal Guardians for a Prosperous Parma

Breed Neutral Division

Read More on Opinion
Volume 6, Issue 3, Posted 12:39 PM, 03.05.2014