The ban on pit bull ownership in Lakewood will end, though there are a few caveats in the new legislation.
"The breed ban effectively ends today," Mayor Mike Summers wrote in an email to council members last week, "because I do not see the merits of enforcing a feature we are likely to eliminate in the near future." In effect, the ban on pit bull breeds would be replaced with some new regulations and "stricter consequences on owners for failure to maintain control of animals."
The move comes after months of concerted protest and vocal opposition
to the breed-specific ban (although the opposition has indeed been present in the city from the get-go).
Still, though, the new ordinance language contains policies directed specifically at pit bull breeds (Staffordshire Bull Terrier, American Pit Bull Terrier and American Staffordshire Terrier) and the canary mastiff. For example, a "dangerous dog" — specifically those breeds, according to the proposed law — must be muzzled when "off the premises of its owner." They must be walked by an adult at all times.
Only one such dog is allowed per household.
Those asterisks on the new dog law prompt concern from residents who've been watching this debate play out for the past year.
"This isn’t just about a blocky headed dogs," resident Greg Murray said at last night's council meeting. "This isn’t just about Charlie, Macie, Roscoe, Valentina. It’s about common sense laws. It’s about safety. It’s about respect. It’s about being a progressive lakewood. It’s about giving bite victims of any type of dog in lakewood the respect they deserve by taking safety seriously. It is the city’s job, along with it's residents, to create an environment through many different tools and avenues that says, 'We mean business when it comes to safety.' That hasn’t happened in 10 years and we didn’t make any headway with Friday’s proposal."
The ordinance has been referred to the city's Public Safety Committee.
Summers joined three council members in introducing the legislation and adding a look toward the impending debate: "We recognize that the proposed changes to this existing ordinance are the beginning of the legislative process. We four are not in full agreement regarding every component of the proposed changes and look forward to the legislative process that will follow."