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Published: Wednesday, 8/1/2007

Ohio Supreme Court upholds Toledo's vicious dog ordinance

BY JIM PROVANCE
BLADE COLUMBUS BUREAU
<img src=http://www.toledoblade.com/assets/gif/TO17150419.GIF> <b><font color=red>VIEW:</font></b>  <a href=" http://www.sconet.state.oh.us/rod/newpdf/0/2007/2007-ohio-3724.pdf" target="_blank"><b> Ohio Supreme Court pit bull ruling</b></a> <img src=http://www.toledoblade.com/assets/gif/TO17150419.GIF> <b><font color=red>VIEW:</font></b> <a href=" http://www.sconet.state.oh.us/rod/newpdf/0/2007/2007-ohio-3724.pdf" target="_blank"><b> Ohio Supreme Court pit bull ruling</b></a>
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COLUMBUS Toledo and state laws singling out pit bulls as inherently vicious dogs are constitutional, the Ohio Supreme Court unanimously ruled this morning.

The dog owner who brought the legal challenge vowed to seek an appeal before the U.S. Supreme Court.

Evidence proves that pit bulls cause more damage than other dogs when they attack, cause more fatalities in Ohio than other dogs, and cause Toledo police to fire weapons more often than people or other breeds of dogs cause the firing of weapons, wrote Chief Justice Thomas Moyer.

We hold that the state of Ohio and the city of Toledo have a legitimate interest in protecting citizens from the dangers associated with pit bills and that (the laws) are rationally related to that interest and are constitutional, he wrote.

While ultimately joining in the unanimous vote, Justice O Connor took issue with a state law which identifies pit bulls are vicious animals per se.

A more thorough analysis of the dynamic would demonstrate the danger posed is the result of some dog owners, including drug dealers, who deliberately increase the dog s aggression and lethalness through abuse or other specific methods of training, she wrote. Other property owners simply fail to properly train and supervise the animal, thereby creating dangerous behavior by the dog.

The case stemmed from a lawsuit filed by former Toledo resident Paul Tellings, who owned three pit bulls in violation of the city s ordinance limiting households to one. The laws also impose liability insurance requirements and require the animals to be muzzled or otherwise confined when off their home property.

After I lose my house, they tell me I can t own two dogs, said Mr. Tellings. This is a free country, not a straight dictatorship. That will never change.

Mr. Tellings is temporarily living in Toledo again after his Michigan home burned under suspicious circumstances on July 7. He now owns two pit bulls, one of which is a puppy.

The state Supreme Court decision reversed a 2-1 ruling by the 6th District Court of Appeals that determined Toledo s ordinance was vague and violated the state and federal constitutional rights of dog owners to provide evidence to challenge the assumption their dogs are legally vicious simply because of their breed.

Contact Jim Provance at: jprovance@theblade.com, or 614-221-0496.

Read more in later editions of The Blade and toledoblade.com



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