BATH TOWNSHIP — Rob Shardy stood next to Atlas on Sunday as the 3-year-old American pit bull terrier calmly stood by watching the other dogs.
Atlas and other pit bulls behave very well unless they were raised in an improper way, Shardy said.
“The ones that people mostly see are the bad ones and those are the ones people have turned into a bad animal,” Shardy said. “Not everybody is bad.”
Shardy was one of about 25 people who gathered Sunday at the Ottawa Metropark for the “Bully Walk” to encourage the city of Lima to amend its vicious dog ordinance already in place.
Event organizer Jessica Gogley said the city’s ordinance is breed specific rather than targeting dogs that have a history of bad behavior.
“People call them pit bulls. The problem is that pit bull is not a breed it’s a characteristic of a breed. We could have something that looks like a pit bull and it actually is not a pit bull,” Gogley said.
Gogley and those participating in the walk want the city of Lima to have a breed-neutral law, rather than targeting a specific breed, she said.
The group chose the metropark because Lima has the law against pit bulls that she said even gives police officers the authority to shoot a pit bull.
“We want to walk dogs in Lima but I can’t put anyone’s dog at risk,” Gogley said.
Also participating was Amanda Slone, of American Township. She was issued a citation more than a year ago for having a vicious dog. She wants to raise awareness. She has a foster home-based rescue program for dogs many believe are vicious such as pit bulls.
“I came out today to support the breed and make people aware that these dogs aren’t bad,” Slone said.
Kate Smith, of St. Marys, brought Kane, an 8-month-old French bulldog pit bull, to the walk. She said Lima supported a similar group in St. Marys so she wanted to return the favor.
St. Marys City Council has a scheduled vote Monday night on whether to adopt a breed-neutral vicious dog law, she said.
“Your dog would have to do something in order to be consider dangerous, a nuisance or a menace,” Smith said.
Smith said if a dog is vicious most of the time it’s the fault of the owner.
“It’s all how they’re raised. It comes down to responsible ownership. If you have an irresponsible owner that doesn’t take care of their dogs it’s going to reflect in the dog’s behavior,” she said.