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Published: Wednesday, 5/23/2012

Change in law takes effect on vicious dogs

'Pit-bull' types no longer can be automatically labeled

BY TANYA IRWIN
BLADE STAFF WRITER

Owners of "pit bull"-type dogs celebrated Tuesday the official end of a 25-year-old law in Ohio law that automatically declared the "pit bull" to be an inherently vicious dog.

The new law, which took effect Tuesday, establishes a process by which owners, keepers, or harborers of dogs that have been designated as nuisance, dangerous, or vicious may appeal that designation.

Jean Keating, co-founder of Lucas County Pit Crew, said the law change means that "we no longer discriminate based on physical appearance in our Ohio Revised Code. Perhaps now we can move forward with educating people about why dogs bite and how to stay safe around dogs."

The law, approved 67-30 by the state House Feb. 8 and signed by Gov. John Kasich Feb. 21, ends Ohio's status as the only state to designate a single breed for scorn -- and often for death. The measure took effect 90 days later.

The law also defines a "nuisance dog," changes the definitions of a "dangerous dog" and a "vicious dog," and requires the owner of a dangerous dog (of any breed) to obtain a dangerous dog registration certificate.

The new law also prohibits certain felons from owning dogs under certain conditions and changes the penalties involving ownership of nuisance, dangerous, and vicious dogs.

The old law defined a "vicious dog" as one that, without provocation, has seriously injured a person, killed another dog, or belonged to the general breed of "pit bull."

Such a designation triggered additional liability insurance, restraint, and other requirements.

The law change was championed by Rep. Barbara Sears (R., Monclova Township) who was honored by several dog groups Saturday for her sponsorship of House Bill 14 and her dedication to removing the breed-discriminatory designation from Ohio's law.

Best Friends Animal Society joined the Ohio Coalition of Dog Advocates and the Pit Crew in celebrating the change to Ohio's vicious dog law by presenting a Neighborhood Pit Bull Day.

Ms. Sears could not be reached for comment.

Contact Tanya Irwin at: tirwin@theblade.com or 419-724-6066.



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