City Council Considers Tougher Vicious Dog Law
POSTED: 4:44 pm EST January 17, 2007
UPDATED: 7:27 pm EST January 17, 2007
CLEVELAND -- Cleveland city leaders want to crack down on vicious dogs, specifically pit bulls, after several attacks in recent months.
Postal worker Jack Smith was mauled by a pit bull three months ago while delivering mail on East 77th Street, near St. Clair Avenue.
Smith still doesn't have full movement of his left had and he suffered more than 40 puncture wounds to his arms.
"If it ever would have got my neck, got the main artery in the neck, in either of my arms, I would have bled out," Smith said.
Cleveland's vicious dogs law includes pit bulls and calls for a misdemeanor conviction and a $1,000 fine if owners do not properly confine the animals or muzzle them while out for a walk.
"There are lots of good pit bulls that are being raised by fine individuals and responsible pet owners. What we're looking to do is deal with people who are being irresponsible, " said City Councilman Matt Zone.
Zone wants to pay more attention to the vicious dog problem, in part because of the numbers. In 2000, Cleveland seized 621 pit bulls. Six years later, than number more than doubled to 1,375.
The dog warden said pit bulls are often tied to dog fighting, gangs and drugs.
Council on Wednesday discussed 21 recommendations to give the vicious dogs law more teeth, including stiffer fines for repeat offenders.
They also want judge to sentence offenders to mandatory obedience training and responsible pet ownership programs.
Smith said that's not enough, but it is a start.
"Enforcement of the laws has to get stricter. Even if it's jail time for the owners, something has to change," said Smith.