Bill would give a break to Ohio’s pit bulls
The proposed law is currently in the state House and, if it passes there, would still need to be approved by the Senate, according to a Fox News report.
The proposal comes on the heels of two Ohio cities — Cleveland and Toledo — rewriting local ordinances to require restrictions be imposed on troublesome dogs based on behavior, instead of breed.
Under Ohio’s current, breed-specific state law, pit bull owners are required to have $100,000 worth of insurance, and a specific containment area for their pet.
“You could have the sweetest pit bull in the world and you would have those restrictions I could have the meanest chihuahua in the world and there would be no restrictions,” said John Dinon of the Toledo Area Humane Society.
Toledo changed its dog rule last year, and Cleveland recently followed suit.
Dinon believes labeling a dog based on its behavior will help keep more citizens in Ohio safe: “It protects people a lot better because right now if you have a dangerous dog that isn’t a pit bull likely nothing’s going to happen.”
The changes in Cleveland were sparked by a pit bull owning councilman, according to the Toledo Blade.
“It just seemed fundamentally wrong to say that a certain breed is bad. That’s like me saying that all people that come from northwest Ohio aren’t good people,” said Cleveland Councilman Matt Zone, who introduced the legislation. “In today’s day and age to really determine and know what a breed is [is] virtually impossible with all of the cross-breeding that goes on.”
Under the changes in Cleveland, authorities can classify any type of dog as a “Level 1” threat to public safety if it attempts to cause harm to a person or domestic animal, and as a “Level 2” threat if it bites or otherwise injures a person or animal.
Owners of these dogs must abide by strict regulations that include keeping the animal in a secure enclosure, muzzling the dog while out in public, and obtaining a minimum of $100,000 in liability insurance. Those who violate the rules can be fined up to $1,000.
The rules are similar to those laid out in Toledo’s vicious dogs ordinance, and, as with Toledo’s, they don’t set forth restrictions based on breed alone.
“I was really proud as a policy maker and as a dog owner to see the foresight and vision on the [Toledo City] council’s part to examine this based on fact, not fear,” Zone said. “Too often you get council people who will try to make policies based on fear or peer pressure that they’re hearing from the community.”
Despite the local changes, “pit bull” owners continue to face requirements for additional restraint, muzzling, and liability insurance under state law.
The Ohio General Assembly is expected to vote before the end of this month on whether to remove the pit bull-specific language from the law.
Cleveland council member Zone said he rescued a pit bull puppy hit by a truck outside his office three years ago. When an animal control officer told him the dog would be automatically destroyed because it was a pit bull, Zone took it home. Since then, Gordon has become a much-loved member of his family.
“It just goes to show that when you show love and care to an animal they give it back tenfold,” he said.
Posted by jwoestendiek June 27th, 2011 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animal welfare, animals, behavior, bill, breed, breed specific legislation, bsl, city council, cleveland, council, dangerous, dogs, gordon, house, insurance, john dinon, labeling, labels, law, laws, matt zone, ohio, ordinances, pets, pit bulls, pitbulls, proposal, rescue, restrictions, senate, shelter, toledo, toledo area humane society, vicious