Ohio lifts designation of pit bulls as vicious

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Ohio, the only state that had statewide legislation specific to a particular breed of dog, has lifted the designation of pit bull–type dogs as vicious.

In late February, the governor of Ohio signed H.B. 14 to amend state law on dangerous or vicious dogs. The bill removed the provision that having a pit bull "shall be prima-facie evidence of the ownership, keeping, or harboring of a vicious dog."

Pit bull

In Ohio, owners of dangerous or vicious dogs must comply with certain requirements. A new requirement is for owners to obtain registration certificates for dangerous or vicious dogs.

The Ohio VMA worked for many years to lift the state's designation of "pit bulls" as vicious, said Jack Advent, OVMA executive director.

"After a number of unsuccessful attempts, we are very pleased that H.B. 14 passed the Ohio General Assembly and was signed by the governor," Advent said. "The legislation properly focuses enforcement, penalties, and identification on the actions of those dogs who exhibit inappropriate activity as well as holding the owners of those animals responsible."

Barbara Sears, the representative in the Ohio House who introduced H.B. 14, said, "For too long, many dogs with good temperaments have been unfairly discriminated against, while many other truly vicious ones have been permitted to roam our streets. Breed-specific laws imply that pit bulls, by their very nature, are vicious and are the only types of dogs that can attack without provocation—but this is simply not the case."

The AVMA State Legislative and Regulatory Affairs Department has identified court rulings in nine states upholding municipal ordinances to prohibit or impose additional requirements on ownership of pit bull–type dogs. Conversely, 12 states prohibit municipalities from adopting breed-specific ordinances.

"The AVMA supports dangerous animal legislation by state, county, or municipal governments provided that legislation does not refer to specific breeds or classes of animals," according to the AVMA policy on "Dangerous Animal Legislation."