[a]ny Staffordshire Bull Terrier, American Pit Bull Terrier or American Staffordshire Terrier breed of dog, any dog of mixed breed which is predominantly of one or more of such breeds, or any dog commonly known as a Pit bull, Pit Bull dog or Pit Bull Terrier; as determined by an Animal Control Officer.But showing the near-futility of this kind of visual breed identification, Scrappy's littermate was deemed not to be a Pit during that same visit. "How can one be [a ‘Pit Bull’] and the other not be if they have the same parents?” Spais said to The Toledo Blade. Dog trainer and advocate Kerry Stack, who owns Darwin Dogs in Lakewood, is struck by the injustice of this case -- as with every case involving a good dog ripped from a loving family based on nothing more than how the dog looks. Stack has been working with Aleeah and her family since mid-January. She testified on the family's behalf at a city council meeting urging the council to repeal the city's Pit Bull ban, and has organized a rally for March 15, at the time of Scrappy's hearing. She's raising money to help pay for the family's legal fees, and is asking supporters to sign an online petition. "When you meet Aleeah and her grandma, you see a family doing the best they can with what they have," Stack said. Members of the Lakewood city council have expressed support, as well -- citing multiple studies and reports showing breed bans like Lakewood's to be ineffective at promoting public safety, while at the same time expensive and otherwise problematic to enforce. "Personally, I don't think this is a policy that has support in science," said council president Sam O'Leary, according to Cleveland.com. "From a public policy and public safety standpoint there are more effective and comprehensive ways to address this issue than breed-specific language." Councilmember Dan O'Malley tells BarkPost he intends to be at the rally -- and would also like to see a repeal of the ban. "I think it's time," said O'Malley. "This case with Scrappy illustrates for us how important it is to change this law." But the repeal almost certainly won't happen before Tuesday. Attorney Phil Calabrese -- who in January helped defeat a proposed Pit Bull ban in neighboring Shaker Heights -- is representing the family at the March 15 hearing. Calabrese said to BarkPost he has a variety of factual and legal arguments on Scrappy's side -- along with public policy, which strongly disfavors breed-specific legislation. "And in addition, this case raises important questions about the role of government and the way that government interacts with citizens," said Calabrese. Spais told BarkPost she is also interested in the public policy issues here. She'd like to see Lakewood's Pit Bull ban repealed. But right now she just wants to know that her granddaughter and Scrappy will be able to stay together. Spais can't bear imagining would it would be like to tell Aleeah, who has endured so much pain already in her four short years, that Scrappy now has to go away -- what that would mean for Aleeah's emotional well-being, what it would mean for her health. "I just hope we have a positive outcome," Spais said. "Right now, my primary focus is Aleeah keeping her dog."
Images provided by Elizabeth Spais