The Human Victims of Breed Specific Legislation

Walking with a friend in the dark is better than walking alone in the light.

Helen Keller


About a week ago I received a voicemail from a thoroughly exhausted woman named Liz, asking me for help.  I listened to her story with growing outrage at the situation they had all been placed into.

Liz’s granddaughter, 4-year old Aleeah, has cystic fibrosis, and Liz’s son, who had just gained full custody of his daughter, was forced to move in with Liz so as to facilitate Aleeah’s constant medical care.  Part of Aleeah’s care includes wearing a compression vest for fifteen minute treatments, twice a day.  The vest is designed to help break up the mucous that is constricting her breathing, and it shakes her, starting with moderate vibration and ending with violent shakes. Needless to say, it can be traumatic for the child, and they had difficulties getting her to sit calmly through the twice-daily ordeal.

That’s where this little guy came into play.

Meet Scrappy, the

Meet Scrappy

The thought was that a puppy might be able to keep Aleeah’s mind off of the treatments.  And guess what?  It worked.  Aleeah was sitting still for the treatments, and Scrappy was right by her side, comforting her throughout the ordeal.

A hero to Aleeah

A hero to Aleeah

He hears the machine go on, and he’s right by her, ready to do his job. No, he wasn’t trained to do this.  He’s not a service dog, nor even a therapy dog.  He’s a dog who knows he has a job.  Unfortunately, according to a few, he’s something else.  A pit bull.  At least that’s what the City of Lakewood believes.  And since Aleeah and best friend moved into Lakewood, a city that still has outdated Breed Specific Legislation (“BSL”), this dynamic duo is about to be broken up.

Scrappy was forced to do a blood test to prove whether or not he actually is actually “pit bull”.  According to the City of Lakewood’s 2008 legislation, a “pit bull” is:

“any Staffordshire Bull Terrier, American Pit Bull Terrier or American Staffordshire Terrier breed of dog, any dog of mixed breed which has the appearance and characteristics of being predominantly of such breeds, any dog commonly known as a pit bull, pit bull dog or pit bull terrier; or a combination of any of these breeds.”

Scrappy’s blood test is still pending. He has a hearing on February 23 pending the outcome of his blood test. If he proves to be “pit bull” by DNA, the hearing will go forward, most likely resulting in his being seized by the city.

Meanwhile, a little girl sits at her breathing machine, wondering if this will be the last time Scrappy will be there with her though it all.


I, personally, refuse to allow Scrappy to be taken away purely because of misguided and outdated legislation.  Aleeah needs Scrappy, and Scrappy needs Aleeah.  But even more so, we need to examine the nature of legislation such as this.  With so many cities overturning their breed specific legislation and welcoming all dogs into their cities, why do we still have such antiquated legislation in effect in such an otherwise tolerant city as Lakewood, Ohio?  Even Lakewood City Council is divided on the issue, which was decided eight years ago, with different members on the council at the time.  Council President Sam O’Leary had this to say to reporter Bruce Geiselman in a recent article:

“I don’t speak for all of council, but I have heard from other council members they would be open to revisiting the topic this year,” O’Leary said. “Personally, I don’t think this is a policy that has support in science, and I think there have been a number of reports, studies and other information provided from groups ranging from the American Bar Association to the ASPCA that show from a public policy and public safety standpoint there are more effective and comprehensive ways to address this issue than breed-specific language.”

Aleeah’s grandmother and I attended Lakewood City Council’s meeting this past week, along with many supporters, to plead with council to revisit the archaic legislation.  Let’s hope that our words do not fall on deaf ears.  We ask that you join with our voices, not only with regard to Aleeah and Scrappy, but also in support of those dogs who didn’t garner as much attention as Scrappy has. For those victims of BSL who never make it out of a shelters.  Only 1 in 600 pit bulls will make it out of a shelter alive. Most are euthanized through no fault of their own.   Be a voice for those families who are unable to keep their beloved pets because of misguided notions about who pit bulls really are. Be a voice for Aleeah and Scrappy.

I’ve already added my voice, and will continue to do so.  Please consider adding yours.

As of publication, we are just shy of 40,000 signatures in support of Aleeah and Scrappy.  Please click here to add your name and allow your voice to be heard.  We are also asking that you directly contact City of Lakewood, Ohio - Municipal Government, either on their Facebook page or via snail mail:
City of Lakewood, Ohio
Attn:  Mayor Mike Summers
12650 Detroit Ave
Lakewood, Ohio
Keep calm and pilot on
Kerry Stack
Darwin Dogs
Dog Training in Lakewood, Ohio

25 thoughts on “The Human Victims of Breed Specific Legislation

  1. There is NO bad animal only bad humans who train the animal to be mean or abuse the animal until it defends itself. Let the child have her dog

  2. I believe that as long as she gets a doctor written statement that she needs the dog for emotional support it can be considered an emotional support animal and then the breed does not matter and it can not be taken away from her. Please check into it further. A doctor visits may alleviate all her problems.

    • Laurie –
      Rest assured we will not let Aleeah nor Scrappy down, and we will explore all legal means to keep them together, as well as our larger goal, of educating about BSL in an effort to end such legislation. Thank you so much for your support in this!

  3. Okay look. I have CF. CF sucks. Every treatment she has to do, I have to do them and then more. But this sob story is disgusting. It depicts CF children as children made of glass who we need to take pity on, which is downright insulting. People with CF are STRONG and this kind of bullshit about giving her special treatment just because she has CF is going to hinder her in the future, making her believe that she is less capable, more fragile than her healthy peers.

    She will be able to get over her dog being taken away from her JUST LIKE ANY NORMAL CHILDREN would.

    • Thank you for your many (many) posts on this topic. I’m sorry to hear that you have to contend with CF as well. Unfortunately, I think you may have missed every single point of this article. I firmly believe that Aleeah can live without Scrappy. She is most definitely *not* made of glass. However, I can live without my dogs as well. But I don’t think that the decision whether or not I can keep a beloved pet should fall to any city government, regardless of the individual involved.

  4. I have a 3 legged tripod american staffordshire female I rescued from the pound, and I love my dog. I have had a Lot of animals, and this breed is extremely loyal, good with kids, good with my cat and the dog loves me. It’s totally wrong to think most pits or american staffordshires are bad breeds, that’s WRONG .
    What the hell is wrong with the city of Lakewood banning these breeds. Shame on them how dare they do that !!!!
    There are tons of great pit bulls in the pounds who are very sweet. And read up even about american staffordshires, they are a loyal breed, good with kids. That’s why her dog too is so loyal to her. They got nerve wanting to take her dog away like that !

    • People with CF don’t benefit from having dogs. Actually, they would benefit more from not having them because of the germs. Some pediatricians and pneumologists prohibit CFers from having animals.

  5. Have you encouraged or supported This Family to register this child’s dog as an A.D.A. Registered Service Animal (Dog)? My “Howard” is registered with this Organization. He has a badge with a Registration Number and I’ve checked with them! My Howard IS in-fact Registered as a Federally Protected Functional Service Animal. He is allowed even on an airplane WITH me! He’s allowed everywhere I go! I registered him on line at their site!

  6. I sent emails to all parties in volved on the cities side. This is a joke. Everyone can see that. We are not talking about a dog that has a history of violence or aggression. We are talking about a dog that she has had since he was a pup and has been by her side getting her through her health issues ever since. I will be flying out from Los Angeles with a group for the hearing. If they vote against her and try to take the dog there will be many obstacles that will keep that from happening. I’ll leave it at that.

    • Thank you for your support, Jeff. As you already know, Pitties in general tend to be non-violent, and I have seldom had an aggression case with a client involving a pittie. Please bear this in mind, and be “pittie-ful” in your thoughts and actions. Hopefully, your statement about “there will be many obstacles that will keep that from happening. I’ll leave it at that”, doesn’t include deviating from the standard our dogs hold us to. Let’s keep it to respectful discussion, education and making our voices heard through calm, peaceful demonstrations of support. We thank you!

  7. I question the results of the DNA testing–my daughter had her rescue dog tested and they could not determine any specific breed but border collie–and the dog looks and acts NOTHING like a border collie.


  8. This is all nonsense and very racist against a breed that has been proven over & over to be outstanding in every way but not given that chance because of what humans have done. All breeds can have a nasty side & all breeds can be supportive, loving & protective. All that depends on how humans raise them.
    Scrappy is a member of the family & if you remove him & destroy him….you also destroy one special little girl who relies on him emotionally to get through her treatments. CF is battle. Scrappy is a positive aspect. You take away that positive & create a negative you may very well contribute to a decline in her health & if this can be noted by medical professionals ……I am sure you can figure it from there & it has been accomplished before.
    Dispose of your bullsh*t & leave these people alone.

    • She is 4. she will get over it. CF children aren’t made of glass and we don’t break at a single touch. Please stop insulting us.

  9. Scrappy is doing no harm to anyone and performing a valuable service to this sick little girl. Breed specific laws are not helpful. In many cases they do more harm than good.

  10. If Scrappy is Aleeah`s connection to surviving her disability what right does gov. to say we will kill both to serve our out dated laws. Is there no shame.

  11. What a beautiful story. Leave her dog alone! Scrappy is a service dog. With out Scrappy! Aleeah wouldn’t be able to get through her treatment.

  12. BSL laws need to be removed from the united States including Lakewood Ohio. I live on Guam which has several breeds of dogs related to pit bulls. Most are gentle and loving animals. The real solution is to arrest and incarcerate the owners who mistreat their pets and train them to be aggressive regardless of their breed.

  13. The little girl should be able to keep her do pit bull or not if it,s not harming anyone, being a public nuicence , vicious, nosiey,menence, or being abused then WTF is the problem,,,, Get a grip people n smaeten up…..this dog helps this little girl face each day n brings her happiness, for some it takes Months of training to teachservice dogs n money and here is a dog that this comes natural…..what a blessing. Let her keep her dog don,t kill her dreams, her friend her life line !!!!!!

  14. BSL laws are inhumane and based on false ideas and they all need to be repealed. I own a mixed breed dog that is part pit bull and I couldn’t ask for a nicer dog. Don’t break that poor families hearts by taking their family member away from them.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>