Ohio Moves to Reverse Pit Bull Classification

February 10, 2012  

But cities and counties don’t have to concur

By Michael Mountain

The Ohio Senate voted 27-5 Tuesday to repeal the breed-specific language in the Ohio Revised Code. The House voted 67-30 on Wednesday to agree to Senate changes to the legislation. If Governor John Kasich signs on, then dogs who are considered to be pit bulls will no longer be automatically classified as “vicious animals.” The new law will say that a dog can be labeled vicious only if he or she kills or causes serious harm to a person while unprovoked.

That doesn’t mean all is now rosy for pit bulls in Ohio. Even if the governor signs the bill into law, local municipalities will be free to set their own classifications. The new law will only apply at the state level.

Ohio is currently the only state that classifies a specific breed of animal as vicious.

“In doing so, it discourages responsible dog owners from complying with licensing requirements,” said Sen. Mark Wagoner, R-Toledo. “Canine profiling is expensive, ineffective and infringes on property rights.”

It has also led to other problems for many people with pets, including the need for liability insurance.

Under the new law, dogs can be classified in one of three categories: “nuisance,” “dangerous” or “vicious.” The vicious classification will be for dogs who, without provocation, seriously injure or kill a human. They can be taken away and killed.

Guardians of any dog who fits in one of the three classifications will face penalties ranging from fines to felony charges.

All five “no” votes against the bill were from Republicans, including Sens. Jim Hughes of Columbus and Kevin Bacon of Minerva Park.

Senator Kevin Bacon, who voted against the change, said, “I think there are some dogs that are more inherently prone to being aggressive, and they should be classified differently.”

Senator Jim Hughes agreed. “Unfortunately, pit bulls in this county have had a lot of bad cases with children and drugs,” he said. “Drug dealers use these dogs to go after police.”

Local municipalities will still be free to set their own rules.

Kevin Butler, the City of Lakewood’s law director, said the city’s ordinance deeming all pit bulls and canary dogs as “dangerous animals” will probably hold.

“I don’t believe that merely removing pit bulls from the definition of vicious animals in the state code alone would affect our ordinance, because it doesn’t classify them as vicious animals,” he said.

(photo by Melissa Lipani)

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One Response to “Ohio Moves to Reverse Pit Bull Classification”
  1. Honestly, I wish folks delved a little deeper when electing officials. What do they really stand for and are those the same views you want representing you and society?