|A correction for the erroneous report in The Cincinnati Enquirer, dated 5-15-14. While the headline was large and incorrectly identified the dog as a "pit bull," the correction was on page A7 next to the Lotto drawings.|
He said that, while he was walking away from a house in the north end of Fort Thomas, a "pit bull" grabbed ahold of his leg and bit him.
The problem, of course, is that the dog was not a "pit bull."
The story grabbed headlines because of Guidugli's status in the community and because the word "pit bull" was in the title of the story.
The simple fact is that it is very difficult to identify a pit bull. The Enquirer got a tip through someone from Burlington, Kentucky. Second-hand information came from this person that there was "a pit bull attack" in Fort Thomas and they ran with it. It wasn't verified. The Enquirer was fooled. So was Channel 12. These incidents occur often and it's unfair to put this burden on the those charged with enforcing the law.
According to Animal Control Officer, Terri Baker, the dog was a mixed breed and did not fall under the characteristics that the city uses to determine whether or not a dog is a pit bull.
"I thought it was a pit bull. It looked like one to me," said Guidugli. "I don't believe any dog is born bad, it's just how it's raised. I have many friends that have pit bulls and they are good dogs. I'm against the pit bull ban in Fort Thomas."
Click this poster to see if you can identify which of these dogs are characterized as pit bulls.
The current ordinance, which was enacted in 1988, in part states that "It is hereby determined that pit bull terriers have inherently vicious and dangerous propensities." Dr. Jean Pritchard, veterinarian at the Fort Thomas Animal Hospital, believes that the ordinance is outdated. "Changing the ordinance is overdue and it's time to stop stereotyping by breed. 25 years ago if you would have asked me my opinion on pit bulls, my opinion would be different. It's fair to say that with amount research available now, that stereotype is not true. We have to learn to evolve and change this ordinance."
Proponents for ending the "Breed Specific Legislation" do not want to completely eliminate the ordinance. Instead they are proposing to increase the ordinance to include regulation for all dogs.
In March of 2012, Fort Thomas resident Gina Holt, was taken to the hospital after her neighbor's 150-pound Rottweiler mixed breed dog broke loose and lunged at her, unprovoked.
"I knew I didn't want an aggressive dog like this in my neighborhood, let alone two doors up. Animal Control told me that they had received several calls on this dog in the past and knew it was aggressive and was just waiting for it to hurt someone. The city was aware of all of of this. However, the law in Fort Thomas didn't allow Animal Control to prevent this dog from hurting me. Our law only bans pit bulls, whether they are dangerous or not, not dogs that demonstrate aggressive behavior. So Animal Control literally had to wait for the dog to attack someone before they could get it out of the city," said Holt.
Proponents of the new ordinance say that taking out the "breed specific" part of the dog ordinance will actually increase public safety. They want to institute amendments to the ordinance that have been proven to decrease bites. Items such as spaying and neutering, anti-tethering laws and adding an education component to public safety. And in Holt's case, if the ordinance were to regulate all dogs, not just one breed, the dog that attacked her could have been prevented.
"We all want the same thing which is more public safety. Nobody wants dogs running wild and certainly nobody wants dogs biting. The current ordinance is simply a placebo effect and does nothing to increase public safety," said Fort Thomas resident, Alison Head. "If there is a dangerous dog, regardless of breed, the same ordinance would apply to them. Make it about the owner, not the dog."
"It's a common sense solution," said Guidugli. "I try to run my campaign that way."
Was The Enquirer deliberately trying to sensationalize the story to get more coverage? According to the author of the story, that was not the case. "I was horrified," said Terry DeMio via Twitter, who wrote the story. An edit on the story was done on the digital version as soon as the mistake was realized. A print retraction was run the day after the mistake, albeit very small compared to the headline.