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Helping to change Ohio law so that “pit bull”-type dogs are no longer considered inherently dangerous is only the beginning of what a group hopes to do for the often-misunderstood canines, said Laura Handzel, a legislative lawyer with Best Friends Animal Society.
Ms. Handzel, a programming and policy analyst with the Kanub, Utah, advocacy group, is in Toledo in part to help with a rabies clinic held today in conjunction with Community “Pit Bull” Day. She arrived Wednesday.
Best Friends Animal Society is giving the Lucas County Pit Crew and Humane Ohio two grants to help pay for the clinic as well as another one later in the summer. Each group will receive $3,000 for the clinics.
The pit crew also received an additional $3,000 from Best Friends to fund playgroups and training to increase adoptability of “pit bull”-type dogs.
“We didn’t want to help change the law and not provide additional support for ‘pit bull’ owners,” said Ms. Handzel, who owns three dogs, including a “pit bull” mix.
The law she is referencing is House Bill 14, which was introduced in May, 2012, by state Rep. Barbara Sears (R., Monclova Township). It changed the previous law that declared "pit-bull" type dogs as inherently dangerous.
Owners can take their “pit bull”-type dogs to Glenwood Park in the Old West End from 10 a.m. to noon today for free rabies vaccinations and tags. Other breeds of dogs will be vaccinated for $5. Preregistration is not required. Vouchers for free spay/neuter surgeries and other giveaways also will be offered.
Ms. Handzel also toured Humane Ohio and the Lucas County Dog Warden’s Office and attended a play group at Bark Avenue organized by the Lucas County Pit Crew.
Ms. Handzel and Jean Keating, founder and president of the pit crew, spent much of Thursday and Friday walking the Old West End neighborhood, putting up door tags and offering flyers to people they encountered to tell them about the rabies clinic. They distributed nearly 1,000, Ms. Keating said.
“I really love getting out into communities and meeting people and their dogs,” Ms. Handzel said.
Ms. Keating said another rabies shot clinic will be held in July. Once details are finalized, the date and location will be posted on the pit crew’s Web site, lucascountypitcrew.com.
The Pit Crew, which will have about a dozen volunteers at the event today, has held similar rabies clinics in the south end and in Holland. The Old West End neighborhood was chosen because a large number of “pit bull”-type dogs are in that neighborhood, according to statistics from the Lucas County Dog Warden’s Office.
“We want to go where the greatest need is and where people need the help the most,” Ms. Keating said.