Monday, May 12, 2003

Village considers pit bull ban

At least 25 estimated in Golf Manor; only one is registered

By Allen Howard
The Cincinnati Enquirer

GOLF MANOR - This small village of 3,800 residents and maybe 25 pit bull terriers is having problems mixing the two.

Police Chief Steve Tilley said the squared-jawed animals have become common; his police force of six estimates that they have seen about 25 being walked on the streets and in playgrounds.

"Even though my officers see a lot of them out there, we only have one registered owner. Under the current law, owners are required to register the pit bulls, but I don't have a big enough force to spread out over the village and try to get owners to register their dogs," Tilley said.

"In the last four weeks, we have had about five or six runs where people complained that the pit bulls are chasing children, being walked by underage children or in areas where children are playing. We have not had incidents where the children were attacked, but we would like to nip this before it starts."

A proposed ordinance to ban pit bulls in the village is going before council tonight for a second reading. The motion was introduced by Councilman Charles O. Hughes, who lives next door to a pit bull owner in the 6200 block of Ridgeacres Drive in the Villas Condominiums.

Hughes said he saw a pit bull come from the home, and it was allowed to roam in the back yard without a leash.

Another neighbor, Seleta Mitchell, said she supports a ban on the pit bulls because she has three small children and doesn't want them outside playing near the dog. "I try to keep my children inside, especially when I see the pit bull outside," Mitchell said.

Hughes said he plans to call for a suspension of rules tonight and ask for two readings to meet the required three readings and pass the ordinance as an emergency measure.

"We want the pit bulls banned because they are vicious animals," Hughes said.

He said the Golf Manor ban is patterned after a similar ban in Cincinnati.

Tilley said he is all for banning the pit bulls, but is concerned about the cost incurred if the village takes the dogs and has to hold them until a court appearance.

"The estimates we get from SPCA (Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals) is from $800 to $1,000 to hold a dog. The village just doesn't have that kind of money," Tilley said.

The proposal also has other drawbacks. Whoever files a complaint about a dog has to appear in court.

"This kind of puts neighbor against neighbor and that is not good," Tilley said.

Pit bull owners seen in the village refused to comment on the ban. But some other dog owners don't like it.

"As a dog lover and a taxpayer, I am against the ban," said Jack Lerer of 6455 Elbrook Drive, who owns a German shepherd. "I think how safe the dogs are depends on how the owner handles them."

Maxine Auterson of 6534 Elbrook Drive said she owned a pit bull for 13 years and it never attacked anyone.

"It depends on how you raise them," she said.

"My pit bull was very friendly. It didn't particularly like strangers, but that is what you want in a dog. If they liked every stranger they see, they wouldn't be very good watchdogs."


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