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WBNS-10TV Columbus, Ohio | Columbus News, Weather & Sports |

Newark Dog Owners Hold Vigil To Support Pit Bulls

Pit bull supporters hoping for a change in Newark's breed-specific dog laws took a different approach to getting city council's attention.
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Pit bull supporters hoping for a change in Newark's breed-specific dog laws took a different approach to getting city council's attention Monday night.

About two dozen pit bull supporters braved below-freezing temperatures Monday evening to take part in a prayer vigil outside Newark's city building.

Newark city council members are scheduled to vote next Tuesday to potentially remove breed-specific language from the city's dog ordinance.

The ordinance currently categorizes a pit bull as vicious regardless of whether it has attacked anyone.

"It's totally wrong," Niki Arter said of the current law. Arter organized the prayer vigil.

Some at the vigil, like Michele Porter, don't live in Newark but felt compelled to join the cause. The Hanover resident says she would have moved to Newark if the laws had been different.

"I want to have a choice," Porter said. "I want to be able to choose what kind of dog I want."

Not everyone in Newark supports the pit bulls. There have been three pit bull bites reported to Newark police so far this year. The victim of one of those bites says a pit bull attacked him and his dog last month.

"The dog didn't appear to be really old but it was really mean," he said.

The victim didn't want to be identified but tells 10TV he now carries a utility knife to protect himself and his dog. He wants to see even stricter restrictions for pit bulls.

"Don't make (the laws) any lighter," he said. "It's already bad as it is. Don't make it any worse."

Newark Police stats for 2014 reveal 71 dog bites. Police say 12 were by mixed breeds, 12 were by pit bulls and pit mixes and 10 were by Labradors and Labrador mixes.

Those at the vigil argue that based on the stats, Labradors could be considered just as dangerous as pit bulls.

They are hoping city council agrees.

"I believe even if we don't get this to go next week, it will go," Porter said. "It's just a matter of time but hopefully…hopefully."