The following story originally appeared in the May 26 edition of The North Ridgeville Press.
Blaming media hysteria and uneducated people for discriminating against pit bulls, resident Dawn Stretar, along with filmmaker and fellow activist Jeff
Theman, spoke at Friday’s North Ridgeville Rotary Club meeting.
Theman brought along his pit bull, Preston, as an example of a loving, yet misunderstood, canine breed.
“We’ve been lied to about these dogs,” Theman told the Rotarians. “The (breed-specific) laws are based solely on
appearance and breed. They’re ‘vicious’ just because they look a certain way. It’s the only form of legal discrimination today.”
He went on to say the media, “in order to sell news,” perpetrates common “myths” of ferociousness.
Stretar stressed her opposition to “laws passed based on complaint.”
“To gauge a dog’s behavior, look at the owner – not at the dog,” Stretar said. “There is breed discriminatory law in North Ridgeville. I can be targeted by neighbors.”
She went on to blame some anti-pit bull sentiment on people moving into the city, saying they bring with them their “narrow view of animal ownership.”
Animal shelters are also guilty of
discrimination, she said.
“The shelter system is relieving itself of responsibility,” she charged. “The shelter system is failing these dogs and killing them. It’s time to stop the animal cruelty.”
Mayor Dave Gillock, who was in
attendance, disputed her claims about city law.
“Our ordinance is not breed specific,” he said. “It never says pit bull.”
The city ordinance makes passing reference to Ohio Revised Code 955, which specifically lists “pit bull dogs” as
“vicious.” Stretar acknowledged afterwards she has neither been discriminated against nor targeted in North Ridgeville.
“I haven’t yet,” she said. “I’m trying to keep that from happening.”
She feels she could be singled out in the future “because the police are ignorant of the law,” she said.
Police Chief Richard Thomas later shared in an interview that several of his officers own pit bulls as pets. As for the assertion Stretar could be a “target,” Thomas dismissed that claim.
“That’s pure, unadulterated hogwash,” Thomas said.