HERE'S an idea that's a real dog: Rep. Tyrone Yates (D., Cincinnati) wants to have all pit bulls in Ohio confiscated and euthanized, banning ownership of the dogs entirely. He also says he's kidding and only introduced the bill to kill the dogs to spark debate about what he thinks is the growing problem of pit-bull ownership in cities.
We'll set aside the question of what such a clever fella is doing wasting his and the General Assembly's time on a bill he doesn't want passed instead of focusing on important stuff like, you know, the state budget deficit, how to improve funding for education, and what to do about Ohio's crumbling infrastructure and stagnant economy. Instead, let's focus on the merits of the bill Mr. Yates introduced last month and currently is languishing in committee with no more chance of coming to a vote than he has of being asked to give the keynote address at the next convention of American Staffordshire terrier owners.
If his bill were passed, ownership of pit bulls - which is not a breed of dog at all but a general term encompassing several breeds - would be banned. Then, these vague "pit bulls" would have to be surrendered to the local dog warden who would kill them.
There is no doubt pit bulls have a bad reputation because they've been bred for aggressiveness, are often owned by drug dealers, and are used in dog-fighting operations. But proposing to ban an entire breed, let alone several breeds, because they do what they've been bred and trained to do is not a conversation starter. It's ridiculous. In fact, it's a little like disbarring University of Toledo-trained lawyers because one alumnus proposes a stupid law. Then again, a ban on one particular UT law school alumnus might not be such a bad idea in this case.
The dogs commonly referred to as pit bulls are not inherently more dangerous than other breeds. As some may recall, Petey, the lovable pooch in the Little Rascals movies, and Buster Brown's sidekick Tige both were American Staffordshire terriers. And according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, dog-attack data don't suggest which breeds are more likely to bite than others.
Ohio has more than enough laws dealing with dog fighting and other forms of animal abuse. Sadly, many "pit bulls" already are euthanized every year when they can't be rehabilitated after having been raised to be vicious. Banning an entire breed or several breeds is just not justified.