On September 6th, 2017, Lakewood Officials made their decision to remove the controversial pit bull, Charlie, from city limits within 30 days.
Jennifer Scott adopted a pit bull from the Cleveland APL in early February of 2017–a breed that has been banned from Lakewood for nearly a decade. Initially, Charlie was allowed to live in the city as a puppy. A few months later, animal control reserved stance when the pit bull got loose through a fence in early June.
The ruling on the removal of Charlie has caused in uproar–sending residents into protest, filling yards with signs reading the slogan “I’m With Charlie.” Organizations, such as All Breeds Lakewood, are also on the the rise that withstand the increasing amount of breed-specific legislation.
Nine years ago Lakewood passed legislation forbidding any dog that is 50% or more pit bull. Mayer Michael Summers defends the ruling by asserting, “There was a conclusion that the dog in question is a pit bull and by the laws of Lakewood needs to leave the city.” According to Summers, it comes down to public safety.
Lakewood is notorious for it’s “walking city” image–people consistently filling the sidewalks, city parks, and downtown areas. The ruling protects citizens from the attacks that would arise with the allowance of pit bulls. Attacks are reaching epidemic numbers–annually accounting for more than 80% of all dog related fatalities.
Recently, the ruling was further validated by the attack of a local citizen, Nancy McDonnell. On September 10th, McDonnell was attacked by a pit bull, owned by a close friend. The mauling happened as she walked past the dog to dispose of something in a nearby trashcan at her Lakewood home. Seconds later, the woman’s mouth resembled a ‘jigsaw-puzzle.’ Shocked at the occurrence, she states, “There was growling. No warning. No backing away that he was fearful of me…nothing. Just a lunge, bite, and rip.” The local Lakewood citizen is now facing several lip surgeries including a skin rotation–essentially sewing her mouth shut for 2 weeks.
If the city of Lakewood did not have legislation forbidding pit bulls, mauling similar to McDonnell’s case would skyrocket. Lakewood would become a target of choice for the epidemic as it is home to the pit bulls leading victims–toddlers. The public would easily lose a large degree of safety as the dogs are also noted for breaking into yards and homes. When public safety is in question, it is wiser to exercise risk management than to take chance on the horrific attacks that pervade the the United States at an alarming rate. As for McDonnell, she states her opposition and certainly is not “With Charlie.”