Changing Ohio for the Better

July 7, 2011  

The Ohio Coalition of Dog Advocates works to change breed-discriminatory laws

By Jean Keating

The Ohio Coalition of Dog Advocates (OCDA) is a non-profit, all volunteer organization that advocates for legislation to improve the human-canine bond. We work to educate both the public and politicians about responsible dog guardianship. One of our primary areas of expertise is breed-neutral dangerous dog laws.

Ohio is the only state that discriminates statewide against dogs who share a cluster of physical traits. These traits were intended to identify “pit bull” type dogs, but in reality they are so broad that they encompass over 20 different breeds.

Currently OCDA is working with State Representative Barbara Sears to change Ohio’s breed discriminatory law. House Bill 14 seeks to redefine dangerous dogs and vicious dogs by behavior and not by breed. HB14 has been voted out of committee and is waiting for a vote by the Ohio House of Representatives. If you live in Ohio, please call your representative today and ask that they support this important piece of legislation. You can find your representative and follow the bill on our website:

Key Victories

In the spring of 2010 OCDA partnered with Best Friends Animal Society in hosting an educational event in Cleveland. This event featured U.S. women’s soccer player, Cat Whitehill. The event was held at a local school where Cat played soccer with the students and discussed kindness to animals. Several local rescue organizations were also invited to attend, and they brought adoptable pit bulls. During this event, I had the opportunity to meet and chat with Councilman Matt Zone.

Over the next six months, Matt and I corresponded about dangerous dog laws, and I shared with him my work in the city of Toledo (OCDA helped replace Toledo’s pit bull ordinance with a breed-neutral dangerous dog law). In April of 2011, OCDA presented a draft of a breed-neutral dangerous dog law to a small working group of Cleveland city councilmen. Chief Dog Warden John Baird was also included in the working group and was in full support of moving towards a breed-neutral ordinance.

Throughout the month of May, the draft was debated and tweaked, until finally it was ready for presentation to the safety committee. It passed the safety committee unanimously and very quickly moved through the finance and legislation committees. Ultimately, on June 6, 2011, the city of Cleveland unanimously passed the ordinance into law, and Cleveland joined Toledo in becoming breed neutral.

Our deepest thanks go to Councilman Matt Zone and Chief Dog Warden John Baird for their insight and leadership. Because of their dedication and passion, Cleveland has taken a monumental step forward in becoming a safer and more humane community.

Moving Forward

Now that Toledo and Cleveland have adopted breed-neutral dangerous dog laws, OCDA plans to turn its attention to Cincinnati. Cincinnati currently has a ban on “pit bull” type dogs that is very discriminatory. This ban punishes responsible dog guardians, while allowing other breeds a “free pass” for dangerous behavior. While we will continue to work on changing the state law, we feel that we must speak out in Cincinnati and end the senseless killing of wonderful family dogs.

About the author: Jean Keating is a co-founder of the Ohio Coalition of Dog Advocates. She became involved with political advocacy after moving to Ohio from New York and falling in love with an American Staffordshire Terrier that she rescued. She lives in Sylvania, Ohio with her children, dogs and ever-changing pack of fosters.

(All photos courtesy of Ohio Coalition of Dog Advocates)

« « AKC Weighs in on Discriminatory Laws | Spotlight on Robin Hood Animal Rescue » »


3 Responses to “Changing Ohio for the Better”
  1. woofslc says:

    Jean you are amazing, it’s been wonderful to hear of your progress from afar! ~Melissa Lipani, Best Friends Animal Society.

  2. MadelinePenleyAmos says:

    wow,i love his site,i lived in cinci until ten yrs ago and it is so true what you say.while i lived there 2 lil girls were attacked by a neighbors dog and the newsreport actually said ‘because it as not a pit bull the owners would not be charged’.i was furious.i was born and raised in cinci and by the time i left they had a whole lot more serious problems than taking the family pet away.i was very disillusioned with cinci when i left there.another problem i encountered is that ppl who have never had contact with a pit bull are so prejudiced about them that they will lie and say one tried to attack them.i assume they dont want it in their area so mthey do this and report it to police and dog warden..i have had this happen to me when i am with mine at all baby girl is so awesome.she is 11 yrs old and i have had her since she was a puppy.i have a 29 yr old disabled son with mental age o a 3-5 yr old who is also deaf and mute he has behaviors,she watches over him it is amazing.he throws tantrums and she licks him to calm him down.if he pulls her tail she will sit and lick him with those special pitty kisses.i have seen some really special things with the two o them.i trust her with his life,it is such a worry for me that she is gettin older and i have had to fight all her life to keep her because of ignorance.she gives us so much love..

  3. StubbyDog says:

    @MadelinePenleyAmos Wow, your pit bull sounds absolutely amazing. What a special girl. If you want to share your story with our readers, we would love that. Just email if you’re interested. Thanks for sharing.