Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Proposed Law Would Remove Pit Bulls from Ohio's Vicious Dog Law

From Fox8 in Cleveland, OH:

By Dan Jovic | dan.jovic@fox8.com
March 23, 2009
Vicious or Not ?
Vicious or Not ?

Proposed legislation in the Ohio State House would remove pit bulls from the definition of a "vicious dog" in the state of Ohio.

House Bill 79, which was introduced by Rep. Barbara Sears, (R - Sylvania) last week, looks to amend section 955.11 of the Revised Code.

Under Ohio law, pit bulls are deemed dangerous and vicious based on their breed, not based on if the dog has killed, caused serious injury to any person or killed another dog.

"In the 1970's it was German Shepherd, in the 80's Dobermans, in the 90's it was Rottweilers, now it's Pit Bulls. Breed specific legislation does not accomplish the goal." said Sears, "We want to take the focus of the law away from the breed and have it on the behavior of the animal, then hold the owner of the animal accountable."

Under the proposed legislation the following section of the Ohio Revised code would be removed:

"(iii) Belongs to a breed that is commonly known as a pit bull dog. The ownership, keeping, or harboring of such a breed of dog shall be prima-facie evidence of the ownership, keeping, or harboring of a vicious dog."

The proposed legislation has had one staunch opponent in Lucas County Dog Warden, Tom Skeldon, who e-mailed Rep. Sears a case report regarding Pit Bull mauling deaths in Detroit, Michigan over a 19-year period. The email contained an autopsy picture of a child who had been mauled to death by a pit bull.

Skeldon tells Fox 8 News the picture was necessary to show what the animal is capable of doing.

"The [Vicious Dog] law has been a valuable tool in protecting the public, it puts restrictions on Pit Bulls, requires the dog to be fenced or caged and requires owners to have liability insurance." said Skeldon, "That would all go away with this law. This proposal is totally reactive, there is no proactive element involved. The law is proactive, it prevents accidents."

Skeldon says his agency impounded 50 pit bulls in 1993, in 2007 that number was 1354.

Thank you, Representative Sears. We love you! Let her know you feel district46@ohr.state.oh.us

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