The approved Monday evening in a unanimous 7-0 vote an ordinance that would repeal an earlier ordinance which designated all pit bulls as "vicious" dogs.
The ordinance, sponsored by Councilman Dave Kos, Ward IV, would conform with changes made to Ohio law earlier this year.
The Toledo Blade reported in May that Ohio had repealed a law that declared pit bulls as "inherently vicious" breeds of dog. Repealing the Avon Lake ordinance essentially means that the state law applies locally.
The new state law addressed which dogs would be considered "nuisance dogs," "dangerous dogs" or vicious dogs and included restrictions on certain convicted felons owning dogs under certain circumstances. It also provides provisions for sterilizing dogs that have been determined to be dangerous and changes the penalties involving ownership of nuisance, dangerous, and vicious dogs.
For Kos, it was a redeeming moment. He and some other council members have been working for several years to revise the law to focus on individual dogs and their owners rather broadly paint a certain breed as inherently vicious or dangerous.
"This was a really contentious issue in Avon Lake and other communities, but especially Avon Lake," Kos said. "About three-and-half years ago we had a series of public meetings in full council chambers we had residents come in to speak on both sides of the issue. And it got pretty contentious."
"There was a couple of us, myself and Councilwoman Jennifer Fenderbosch, who strongly advocated removing pit bull from the definition of vicious," Kos said.
"We were not in the majority of that. It did not go anywhere after that first series of many meetings. Long meetings, very emotional meetings."
"Tonight is going to be kind of a confirmation that we were on the right path," Kos said Monday before the council meeting.
He said the three-and-a-half years of pushing for that change was worith it, because "it resonated in Columbus," where the state law was amended. "That message we were saying up here in Avon Lake was carried by residents and activists here as a result of those meetings. It was one of the reasons that the state law was finally changed."
The ordinance change was necessitated by the change in state law, but Kos thinks the process helped smooth acceptance of that change.
"I think that the attitudes have changed. That attitudes on council are, I guess, much more agreeable toward some of the discussions that we have had. I think it being passed at the state level, all members of the council see that this is the right way to go."