How Lakewood’s BSL Came To Be

The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.
-Edmund Burke


Name: Roux
Breed: Pittie Mix
Crime: Letting a thief into her owners’ house in their absence, and then snuggling with the cops who arrived after neighbors alerted authorities

There’s just something about Lakewood.  A city where a population of 52,131 is somehow comfortably held on 5.5 square miles of land. And we peacefully co-exist!  We have a small-town mentality that feels almost like modern Mayberry.  We are a tolerant city, where we don’t merely look past our differences; we celebrate them.  We thrive on knowing each other, not merely being “just neighbors”.  We truly feel a sense of community that goes beyond what most cities’ capabilities.

That’s why when, on July 21, 2008, we were all so shocked when a law was passed in our city.


No person may keep, harbor or own pit bull dogs or canary dogs in Lakewood, Ohio, with exceptions for dogs in the city on the effective date. A dog may be allowed to stay provided it has a microchip for identification, has been sterilized, the owner has liability insurance of $100,000, and the dog is properly confined or secured. Failure to comply could result in the removal or impoundment of the dog. The owner may also be charged with a misdemeanor. (Source:

In other words, our tolerant, diverse city passed a law outlawing …diversity.    A law passed based upon how an individual looked, rather than what their actions entailed. How did this happen?

Well, that’s hard to say.  I truly don’t believe that our council members hate dogs.  Perhaps they saw an increase in dog bites in general, or just merely became aware that dog bites happen, and made a reactionary response to the problem, rather than a rational response.  I say “reactionary” because the logic utilized in this ban doesn’t make any sense.

Let me explain.

Right before the ban was passed in July 2008, Lakewood Observer published this article on May 25, 2008 by Brian Powers (former Lakewood councilman who pushed the pit bull ban on Lakewood).

The “article” – which reads as if written by a drunk college frat boy cribbing from Wikipedia the night before his 50 page paper is due – would be humorous if it hadn’t been written by an individual with the ability to pass laws based upon the content of said late-night cribbing session.  For example, the article states that:

“Every legitimate study conducted in America, including the study by the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta, has demonstrated that pit bull bites are more likely to result in a fatality than bites or attacks by any other breed.” – Brian Powers


Please define "legitimate study".

Please define “legitimate study”.

No citations of any kind were included with any of Powers’ “facts”.  Trust me, I looked.  And looked and looked.  I then searched and Googled my heart out.  All I came up with was this quote:

The CDC strongly recommends against breed-specific laws in its oft-cited study of fatal dog attacks, noting that data collection related to bites by breed is fraught with potential sources of error (Sacks et al., 2000) – ASPCA Policy and Position Statements


Absolutely no justification nor citation for anything in Powers’ stance on BSL, as stated in his article in the Lakewood Observer, merely contradiction on every point.  Powers’ somehow became the spearhead of a movement with devastating consequences based upon…nothing.  No facts. No logic. No research.  Merely a knee-jerk reaction to a perceived problem. Sound familiar?
Ask a doctor about vaccines.  Ask animal care professional about pitties.

Ask a doctor about vaccines. Ask animal care professional about pitties.

I wanted to write a post picking apart Lakewood’s ban on pit bulls (and the Powers’ article), but it’s like cotton candy: made of nothing but spun sugar and air. Fragile, falling apart if examined at all. Not a shred of logic, science or reality.
 Apparently Conway worked as fact checker for Lakewood City Council in 2008.

Apparently Conway worked as fact checker for Lakewood City Council in 2008.

  As Greg Murray Photography, a staunch supporter working to #endbsl put it:
“I read this interview of then councilman Brian Powers every month. He was a councilman in Lakewood in 2008 when BSL was passed. These terrible and heart breaking answers are some of many things that drive me to advocate for pits.
‘Question: All breeds of dog bite. Are pit bulls really more dangerous than other dogs?
Brian Powers Answer: Unfortunately, yes, pit bulls are very dangerous. When a labrador, collie or other dog bites, you might end up with a bruise or, in some cases, a puncture wound. When a pit bull attacks, you may end up maimed for life or, in many cases, dead.’
bigly so
Greg Murray has asked via his Facebook page:
“If you have children and a pit in your home, you are a terrible parent. Let Lakewood [City Council] know what it’s like to have children and pits in the same household. Here are the emails for council and the mayor. Please write them now.,,,,,,,
Let me note that some of the people listed above DO NOT support BSL. But we still need to email all of them.”
Well said, Greg.
Name: Lucy Breed: Pittie Mix Crime: Blanket Theif and Serial Cuddler

Name: Lucy
Breed: Pittie Mix
Crime: Blanket Theif and Serial Cuddler

But while many of our council members do not actively support the BSL, I ask why they aren’t speaking out against it?
I strongly encourage not only contacting your Lakewood representative, but visiting All Breeds Lakewood, a group that is dedicated not only to ending BSL, but enriching the lives of pet owners in the City of Lakewood by not only ending discrimination against dogs based upon breed, but strengthening the scope of our current dangerous dog law to target actual dangerous dogs.  Further, making sure through dog safety outreach programs, education and services, our dogs are not put into dangerous situations.
Only a fool would think that legislating against a given group would make an entire population safer.  It’s time to end Lakewood’s breed specific legislation.
For information on how you can help end BSL, please visit All Breeds Lakewood, a grassroots organization dedicated to not only ending BSL, but ensuring all dogs have the opportunity to thrive in our community through outreach, education and resources. 
Keep calm and pilot onKerry Stack
Darwin Dogs
Dog Training in Lakewood, Ohio

4 thoughts on “How Lakewood’s BSL Came To Be

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  2. I grew up in Lakewood and I thought that I would live there as an adult as well. But we excluded Lakewood from our home search because of this BSL nonsense. It says a lot about the leadership of the city in general when they go and ban a specific breed without any type of scientific evidence to back up the ban.

    My grandparents and aunt and uncle had pitbulls in the 90′s when they lived on Clifton in Lakewood. They were both amazing family pets. My grandparents did not even have a fence and the dog would never leave the yard. She was the smartest and most loving dog I have EVER been around. The way that people treat these poor dogs today is just disgraceful, from the abuse that they endure by the hands of evil people to the discrimination and vilification of them by the media and from people who have never known one. Millions of them have been euthanized, taken from their families, left in shelters to rot or go to people that want to abuse or use them as bait because of the complete ignorance of laws like this.

    Lakewood likes to claim that they are so tolerant, yet any city that enacts laws like this without evidence to back it up, just proves that they are anything but tolerant. Even if I did not have a Pit Bull, which I do, I would never consider moving back to Lakewood. I will take my tax dollars to a city that respects me, my choices and my beautiful pittie girl.

    • It’s a difficult situation. The people of Lakewood are standing up in droves stating that they resent and detest the BSL here, but at the same time, our complaints are apparently falling on deaf ears. I only ask that you still keep Lakewood in the back of your mind, as it is truly a tolerant city – the people make the city, not the government. And our people here would most definitely welcome someone with your compassion and loyalty to your best friend.

      • I loved living in Lakewood. This is just so disappointing to me. I am sure a large part of it has to do with the type of people that they think own Pit Bulls and doing what they can to keep those types of people out. What they do not realize is that a lot of the people that have them now have been very well educated on the breed and are not the people that they think would own a Pit Bull. Every Pit Bull in my current neighborhood are owned by professional people and they are so well behaved and well taken care of. We were the first to have one in my neighborhood and people would cross the street when they saw us walking her and would give us dirty looks and so on. That was just 2 years ago and the difference in how people react to the pitties now is amazing. There are still the ones that avoid them but the majority of people see them just as dogs like any other dog.

        My dog will go to the front window at the same time everyday just to say hi to a little boy and his mother that walk past the house when it is nice outside. He waves and points at her and she wags her tail and squeals at him. How can a city not want that!

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