Lawsuit Challenges Enforcement of Pit Bull Ban

Plaintiff Leonard Shelton, a former resident of Lakewood, Ohio, has filed a fourteen count lawsuit  against the city, its animal control officer, Michael Stewart, and police officer, Kenneth Kulczycki, the police department and various unnamed police officers.

Mr. Shelton claims he was repeatedly stopped by Stewart and Kulczycki and told to remove his pit bull dog from the town. Lakewood bans pit bull breeds. LCO 506. 

For his part, Mr. Shelton informed them each time that his dog is not a pit bull breed. He even obtained a DNA test which proved the dog is not a pit bull breed.

Nonetheless, Stewart and Kulczycki continued to stop him, threatening to take his dog and pursue criminal charges against him. They told him they did not accept DNA tests as proof of breed.

Mr. Shelton said the harassment forced him to move out of Lakewood.

Shelton claims the defendants were not trained in breed identification, enforcement of the pit bull ban, or assisting residents in establishing their dogs are not pit bulls. Shelton claims there is no procedure to allow residents to establish their dogs are not pit bull breeds.  He says the defendants incorrectly identified his dog as a pit bull and harassed him with repeated stops and threats to the point he was forced out of the city.  

He claims in this lawsuit that his rights to due process were violated by the city, animal control, the police department and police officers in violation of the civil rights statute, 42 U.S.C. §1983.  Shelton also brings other counts for negligence, fraud, misrepresentation, negligent training, hiring, supervision and retention; intentional and negligent infliction of emotional distress, and civil conspiracy.

Mr. Shelton is represented by attorney, Kristi L. Haude. He seeks damages and attorney’s fees from the jury.

For more information:

Ohio litigation challenging the state law defining vicious dogs to include "pit bulls"

Check out Animal Law Coalition’s BSL Watch