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Pit Bulls In Ohio No Longer Tagged ‘Vicious’

Pit Bulls In Ohio No Longer Tagged ‘Vicious’

Ohio Gov. John Kasich gave homeless pit bull dogs a chance for a new life when he signed a bill on Tuesday that ended a 25-year-old state law that automatically declared the breed to be “inherently vicious.”

The law, which will take effect in 90 days, will allow animal shelters to find new homes for abandoned and owner surrendered pit bulls instead of the mandatory euthanasia of them. Ohio was the only state in the country to label a specific breed of dog vicious, based solely on their appearance.

House Bill 14 was overwhelmingly approved 67-30 by the state House on February 8.

The new law redefines how a dog is determined to be “vicious” or “dangerous.” It also created a third lesser category called a “nuisance” dog. Dog wardens will now have to prove a classification for an animal based on evidence of their behavior and owners will have a process to appeal a label.

“A well-meaning but poorly conceived law is no more, and it represents a victory for Ohio dogs and their people,” said Gregory Castle, chief executive officer of Best Friends Animal Society. The organization has been vocal about laws that discriminate against certain breeds of dog. They are currently working toward similar legislation in Florida.

“It ends the practice of causing undue hardship to thousands of responsible owners of entirely friendly, properly supervised, well-socialized pets,” Castle added.

The new law will also help owners of pit bulls who had to pay higher insurance rates for their pets or denied access to housing because their animals were automatically classified as vicious.

Not All Is Rosy

While the repeal will give homeless pit bulls a chance to find new adopted homes, those in the field like Lucas County Dog Warden Julie Lyle worry about the underlying overpopulation problem of pit bull dogs.

“There are going to have to be an awful lot of places for them to go,” said Lyle. “It’s not like after the law changes, there are going to be 100 people at my door who want to adopt a ‘pit bull.’ They are going to continue to sit here, and we will continue to have to euthanize them. Warehousing them is not the humane alternative.”

Warehousing dogs is a term used when homeless animals sit and languish in animal shelters for months on end. Many eventually go “cage crazy” because they cannot handle the stress of being institutionalized.

When Lyle learned about House Bill 14 passing she started contacting nearly two dozen animal rescue groups in her area to see how they could work together to find homes for the influx of pit bulls she anticipates at her shelter. Unfortunately Lyle has only heard from two rescue groups that could help.

She also talked to animal shelters in other Ohio counties and they are gearing up for the same problem.

Lucas County plans to focus their efforts on spaying and neutering pit bulls to prevent overpopulation. They have been working with Humane Ohio for the past year and have fixed 347 dogs, but will step up their numbers to get to 500 dogs fixed as soon as possible.

While this may be a new challenge for Ohio animal shelters, at least pit bulls in the state will be given a chance for long and happy lives.


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Photo Credit: walkadog

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6:09AM PDT on May 29, 2013

Pit bulls rock! It's humans who suck.

2:29AM PDT on Jul 12, 2012

owners should be condemned and labeled vicious not the dogs

11:16AM PDT on Apr 28, 2012

It's about time!

6:05AM PDT on Mar 25, 2012

Any dog who is LOVED and included in the family will be a good dog - including Pit Bulls!!

5:53PM PST on Feb 28, 2012

It's about damn time a bill like this was passed. Now let's see it done in all 50 states.

11:38PM PST on Feb 27, 2012

Well done, it is the owners that are vicious.

We have owned pitbulls for the past 25 years and so have our family. They have the best nature, when the female had pups, (we prepared a place for her in our house), we found our son one morning lying next to her with her 8 pups fast asleep.

I agree with Michael M, they are an amazing breed and hopefully more people will come to realise this.: ))

6:53PM PST on Feb 26, 2012

good news. The city should make all who own certain breed types to register their dogs. Anyone who has such a breed and is a good responsible dog owner, shouldn't mind registering their dog. Those who are irresponsible will have a problem with it but willl be fined if they are caught not doing it.

5:07PM PST on Feb 26, 2012

Thank u for the info.

3:05PM PST on Feb 26, 2012

I'm very happy about this, but I'm sure there will still be problems for them. People's prejudices always get in the way, not seeing a dog or person for WHO they are as opposed to WHAT they are.

I've known many dogs, some were pits, who were so sweet. But so many dogs have now been put on the list as "aggressive." Rottweilers, German Shepherds, Chows, Akitas, Dobermans, etc., and I find it strange because my family had a beautiful white shepherd when I was a kid and he was one big baby, wouldn't hurt anyone. I've known people with Akitas and Dobermans, and swear that their particular dog is the only breed they will ever have because of their loyalty and demeanor. My last dog was a Rottweiler, he was the love of my life.

So, like your neighbor, you can't judge anyone (animal or human) by what they are, only by who they are individually. No one should be judged by the group they are affiliated with.

4:36AM PST on Feb 26, 2012


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