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Ohio moves to collar pit-bull law

Article

Ohio wants to keep the breed from being labeled as inherently vicious.

NATIONAL REPORT — While several states are looking to toughen laws against pit bull ownership, Ohio is considering legislation that would keep pit bulls from being labeled inherently vicious.

The Ohio Veterinary Medical Association (OVMA) favors the move, stating dogs should not be discriminated against based on breed.

"The legislation in place currently discriminates against a particular type of dog," says Jack Advent, executive director of the OVMA. "We're in favor of H.B. 79. Each case should be evaluated based on the individual dog."

In place for the last 20 years, the Ohio law defines a vicious dog as one that, without provocation and subject to the exceptions described below, meets any of the following criteria: (1) has killed or caused serious injury to any person, (2) has caused injury, other than killing or serious injury, to any person, or has killed another dog, or (3) belongs to a breed that is commonly known as a pit bull dog.

Even if removed from the books, pit bulls still could be considered a dangerous or vicious dog if they meet any of the conditions that define either a dangerous or vicious dog. The law just wouldn't be breed-specific.

Ohio is the only state to have enacted statewide breed-specific legislation, according to the AKC.

Several other states have tried and continue to try to include breed-specific language.

"The American Kennel Club (AKC) supports reasonable, enforceable, non-discriminatory laws to govern the ownership of dogs," the group states. "The AKC believes that dog owners should be responsible for their dogs. We support laws that: establish a fair process by which specific dogs are identified as 'dangerous' based on stated, measurable actions; impose appropriate penalties on irresponsible owners; and establish a well-defined method for dealing with dogs proven to be dangerous. The American Kennel Club strongly opposes any legislation that determines a dog to be 'dangerous' based on specific breeds or phenotypic classes of dogs."

In Montana, House Bill 191 seeks to prohibit the ownership, harboring, or keeping of dogs described as pit bulls. The legislation considers pit bulls to include Staffordshire Bull Terriers, American Staffordshire Terriers and "any dog that has the physical characteristics that substantially conform to the standards established for those breeds by the American Kennel Club." If the bill is passed, all such dogs would be seized and euthanized.

In Oregon, H.B. 2852, introduced in March, would require pit bull owners to have $1 million in insurance to cover any economic or non-economic damages that result from physical injury or any damage their dog causes to personal or real property.

Hawaii Senate Bill 79 would prohibit the ownership, possession or sale of pit bulls in the state.

A New Mexico bill introduced in February would have automatically labeled pit bulls and Rottweilers as dangerous. Under current law there, any owner of a dog deemed to be dangerous must be spayed or neutered, microchipped and registered each year.

If passed, the proposed law would have mandated spaying/neutering of all Rottweilers and any dog that could be identified as a pit bull, but the breed-specific language was removed.

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