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Published: Wednesday, 8/15/2007

Toledoan wants court to rethink ruling against pit bulls

BLADE COLUMBUS BUREAU

COLUMBUS - A Toledo man has asked the Ohio Supreme Court to rethink its unanimous decision made earlier this month upholding laws singling out the pit bill as an inherently vicious dog.

Sol Zyndorf, attorney for Paul Tellings, asked the court to listen to the words of Justice Maureen O'Connor, who, as lieutenant governor, once chaired a statewide dog-fighting task force. She voiced her "disapproval'' from the bench and in her own opinion of a city ordinance and a state law that presume a breed of dog to be vicious rather than focus on owners who influence dog behavior through training or neglect.

Justice O'Connor "knows what will work to assist in combating illegal dog fighting and protect the public from vicious dogs," Mr. Zyndorf wrote in his reconsideration motion.

But while critical of the laws, Justice O'Connor had joined her colleagues in upholding their constitutionality.

The motion argues that the court relied on flawed data when it agreed with the city of Toledo and the state that pit bulls cause more damage when they attack, cause more fatalities, and cause city police to discharge weapons more than any other breed.

Mr. Zyndorf claimed part of the blame lay with the Lucas County Prosecutor's Office, which, he said, removed a book containing Ohio dog attack fatality statistics from the court record and never returned it.

Mr. Tellings was cited for owning three pit bulls in violation of the city's ordinance limiting households to one.

The law also requires owners to have special liability insurance and mandates that dangerous dogs be muzzled or otherwise confined when off their home property.

The court overturned a 2-1 6th District Court of Appeals opinion that had found that the ordinance and the state law were vague and violated owners' constitutional right to challenge the assumption that their dogs are vicious.

The American Canine Foundation and the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals filed briefs supporting Mr. Tellings' motion.



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