Please help put an end to breed bans in Northeast Ohio and around the country. For those of you in Northeast Ohio, the following cities currently ban these amazing dogs because of the way they look.
Lakewood, Parma, Garfield Heights & Warrensville Heights. Many other cities don’t ban them but deem them dangerous.
It’s not often I meet humans that I like as much as dogs. Don’t get me wrong, I like humans a lot. I’m married to one. Dogs are very different. They have much bigger hearts than many of us. And I love them for that.
I first heard about Rick “Doc” Broz in February when I saw this article being shared online: Pawsitive change: Lorain no longer views pit bulls as vicious. So if you know me well, you know that I had to meet Doc eventually.
Doc is a police officer for the City of Lorain, Ohio who primarily deals with animal related issues. He’s also a rescue animal and pit-bull terrier advocate. My type of person! Here’s a great article on Cleveland.com about Doc and all the awesome things he does: Lorain humane officer has reunited, found homes for nearly 1,400 dogs
We first met at Black River Landing in Lorain with his rescue dog Skeeter then went over to the Elyria Friendship Animal Protective League where Doc volunteers his time.
Why did you approach the city of Lorain, Ohio to remove pit bull type dogs from the “vicious dog” definition?
First, it’s simply not true. The vast majority of dogs of this breed family are some of the most friendly dogs I’ve ever encountered. They were specifically bred for non-aggression towards humans, actually used as “babysitters” in England in the late 1800’s. Even dogs rescued from dog fighting rings are usually very friendly to humans. They are the clowns of the dog world. Many other breeds, such as German Shepards, Dobermans, Cocker Spaniels, St. Bernards and hound dogs, are far more likely to bite due to their high strung and protective natures.
Yes, there are many reported bites by “pit bulls” because the breeds are among the most popular dogs in America now. In the ‘70s, German Sheppards were the “vicious dogs”. In the ‘80s, it was Dobermans, then Rottweiler’s in the 90’s and now it’s the pit bulls, simply because of the increased numbers of the dogs. Using this data to determine breed viciousness is like saying it’s safer to ride a motorcycle in northern Ohio in January because statistics show more fatal motorcycles accident in July than in January. I encounter far more pit bull type dogs on my job and have never been bitten or even seriously menaced by one, though I have been attacked or bitten by other breeds of dogs.
Second, how do you determine what is or is not a “pit bull?” Simply by appearance? If you breed a boxer with a lab, you will probably get a dog that resembles a “pit bull”. The original pit bulls were breed from English Bull Terriers (Spuds McKenzie or the Target mascot dog) and English Bull Dogs. From there, they were breed with other dog breeds to come up with at least seven distinctively different dogs, from the diminutive 20 pound mini-bully to the impressive American Staffordshire Terrier which can weigh over 100 pounds. Boxers, American and English Bulldogs, Boston Terriers and French Bulldogs are all in the “Bully” family, but none of these dogs are thought to be vicious.
If you have a ban or restriction on pit bulls, how do you enforce it? DNA tests are arguably unreliable and you can’t judge by appearance. If you have a ban, but don’t enforce it, the city could be liable if a dog that “looks” like a pit bull bites someone. If you try to enforce it, it could cost a tremendous amount of tax payer’s dollars if the owners decide to fight the ordinances. The State of Ohio has dropped any legislation based on breed, so the city is protected from liability simply by complying with the state statutes. If an individual dog displays actions which make it vicious, then designate THAT dog as vicious, not the entire breed. (True that Doc!)
Lastly, if you ban a breed, you will have more people want one, from the thugs who want a tough dog to the soft hearted dog lovers that want a discriminated dog. Just think of the concept of “The Forbidden Fruit” and “Banned in Boston” for proof of the above theory.
What do you feel is the best way to reduce the numbers of dog bites and stray dogs?
Educating the owners of the dogs, educating the public to report loose dogs (and not to try to catch the dogs themselves) and financially punishing irresponsible dog owners with fines or redemption fees. Educating officers and dog wardens to humanely deal with loose dogs and dogs in general, will promote a positive view of the department to the public and gain cooperation in these matters.
Do you think Pit Bulls and Pit mixes are different from other dogs?
All dogs are different, regardless of breed. Any dog of any breed or mix can be social and friendly or aggressive, most often by nurture, not nature. You can’t judge humans by their race (breed) so why do people think you can judge a dog by it’s breed? Personally, from my encounters with well over 1,000 Pit Bull type dogs, I have generally found them to be the most social, friendly and easy to catch when loose.
What do you like most/least about your job working with animals?
Dealing with the animals is my favorite aspect of my job. The challenge of determining the demeanor of the dog, deciding what tactic will most likely result in success and the final safe apprehension of the dog is the most satisfying part of my job. I also truly enjoy stopping and chatting with responsible dog owners I encounter on patrol. I believe any nonconfrontational encounter between police and citizens always has a positive result on both the citizens and the officers views of each other. Dogs make a good ice breaker for such an encounter.
The part I enjoy the least is dealing with irresponsible, careless, reckless, ignorant or uncaring dog owners and the results of their character traits.
What do you have to say to other cities with breed bans or vicious designations for pits?
First the liability issues I mentioned above are the primary reasons city administrators should consider removing any BSL from their ordinances. There are many, many breeds of dogs most people have never even heard of that are more unpredictable, larger, stronger and more capable of doing horrific harm to a human being. So if you ban one breed, if someone wants a “bad-ass dog” they have many other breeds to choose from, dogs that make Pit Bulls look like kittens.
I had a reporter ride with me a year or so ago to do a story on pit bulls. Every one we encountered was friendly. The story never aired. If you want to know about dogs or breeds of dogs, forget what you read or see in the media. Go to a shelter or pound and meet some of these dogs. You will be surprised at what you learn.
We need more Docs in this world…