Sorry, pit bulls: You’re still not welcome in Reynoldsburg.
After more than a year of pleas from advocates hoping to repeal the city law banning the breed — and months of work by a committee revising those local ordinances — Reynoldsburg City Council decided tonight to change absolutely nothing.
Those lobbying for a change didn’t seem surprised.
Though they spoke to the City Council of pit bulls that were more like family — one woman said her dog saved her fiancé’s life by alerting her to a seizure he was having — many said they thought council members already had made up their minds.
Only Councilman Daniel Skinner voted in favor of changing the ordinance banning pit bulls.
Before the vote, several residents spoke against allowing pit bulls, saying they feared what they believe to be a dangerous breed. One man passed out photos of an elderly woman’s bite injuries from a pit-bull attack. Councilman Mel Clemens, who has long opposed allowing the breed, offered an emphatic “Nay” to each proposed change.
“The people elected me because they know I’m going to protect their safety and their properly values,” Clemens said.
Pit bulls have been banned in Reynoldsburg since 1996. The breed is automatically labeled “ vicious,” and keeping a pit bull in the city is a second-degree misdemeanor. Advocates for pit bulls, some of whom admit to still having the dogs in their homes, hoped to persuade the city to remove the breed-specific language, as the state of Ohio did in 2012.
Though they lost tonight, they say they’re not giving up the fight.
Tammy Nortman, a Dayton-based lawyer representing several residents who’ve been cited for owning pit bulls, said the group might consider legal action against the city. She’s already working to defend owners who say their dogs were labeled pit bulls based on an arbitrary and incomplete set of criteria.
Stephanie Nelms, who has been cited for the three pit bulls she calls her “kids,” said she has no plans to give up her dogs.
“I don’t really care at this point,” Nelms said. “I don’t know what the future holds, but I’m not getting rid of my family.”