Newport Rejects Pit Bull Ban, Decides to Target Any Vicious Dog

Times Staff Writer

Pit bullterriers are still welcome in Newport Beach.

After hearing emotional testimony Monday from pit bull owners who maintained that vicious dogs are the victims of cruel owners, the City Council decided to abandon a proposed ordinance that would have barred the breed in the city.

The City Council, without a vote, instead decided to pursue a vicious-dog law that would require dogs guilty of biting someone in an unprovoked attack to be muzzled in public.

Council member Clarence J. Turner, who proposed the ban in September and was the only apparent supporter on the council, called the dogs naturally vicious.


However, the Newport Beach Police Department has reported that most biting incidents recorded in the city in 1986-87 involved German shepherds and mixed breeds.

“I understand people’s love of dogs--I have a dog myself--but I also think we have a responsibility to recognize the potential danger (of pit bulls) to the community,” Turner said.

Council member Donald A. Strauss said: “It makes sense on a general basis to beef up our dog ordinance but not to have a specific pit bull ordinance. I don’t think the City Council is in favor of doing away with pit bulls.”

The current dog ordinance requires lengthy hearings before a dangerous dog can be muzzled.

Richard Glasier, 60, of Newport Beach, who owns a pit bull named “Cuddles,” said: “My dog has been raised with love and affection. If you say something mean to her, you hurt her feelings. I’m in favor of muzzling vicious dogs, but muzzling Cuddles would change her disposition, make her feel as if she’s done something wrong.”

Under the ordinance, potentially dangerous dogs--those who chase people or have a known tendency to attack when unprovoked--would have to be kept inside. The penalty for non-compliance would include impounding the dog.

Owners of potentially dangerous dogs would also have to display a “Beware of Dog” sign. The ordinance would make it unlawful to own dangerous dogs--those that are bred by their owners to fight other animals or that bite when unprovoked.


Turner said that although he believes a ban of pit bulls is necessary, he would support a vicious-dog law.

“I think it’s a great improvement over what we have now. Our current dog ordinance is very weak, but I’m concerned with dogs which have the ability to kill, maim and leave people disfigured for the rest of their lives, by the owner’s training of them or for whatever reason.” City Council member Evelyn R. Hart said her decision to oppose the ban was not made by the testimony, but her feeling that the dogs don’t pose a threat to the community.