Lakewood, OH: Breed ban language clarified

A Lakewood city council committee has “clarified”—but did not repeal—the language of their two-year-old breed ban on “pit bulls” and “canary dogs.” The clarification effort was prompted by a couple of lawsuits against the city.

The new amendments to the breed ban primarily address the hearing/appeal process. The process by which a dog is identified as a “pit bull” or a “canary dog” has also been altered slightly; the dog’s appearance or characteristics are no longer a factor. Instead, an animal control officer (ACO) determines whether the dog is or is not “predominantly” a pit bull or canary dog breed. The ACO does not have to justify or prove the breed determination in any way.

In another new section, owners may now appeal the breed designation by providing certain types of evidence, but the owner must bear any costs associated with an appeal. Permissible evidence includes letters or testimony from “experts” (the ordinance permits testimony from a zoologist, which seems like a strange expert to call upon… unless the animal labeled a “pit bull” is not actually a dog at all) and/or results from a DNA breed-ID test.

The amended ordinance can be read here (thanks to Melissa E. for getting a copy and providing a helpful recap of the committee discussion!):

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