Ohio Bill Could Remove Pit Bull From 'Vicious Dog' Definition
AKRON, Ohio - Many people consider pit bulls vicious dogs, and many cities around northeast Ohio have laws on the books to keep residents and pets safe from pit bulls. Some cities require special insurance for pit bulls or require owners to register their dogs or face fines or jail time. But a move is under way by state lawmakers to remove the pit bull breed from the definition of a vicious dog. Some cities, such as Lakewood and Garfield Heights, have banned pit bulls and in Akron there are strict pit bull laws, but would a new state law loosen the leash?
There are strong opinions on both side of the issue. Akron city Prosecutor Doug Powley is convinced that pit bulls are more dangerous than other breeds. "Pit bulls have caused very serious injuries because of their ability to bite and hold on," he said. "Too many children are injured by these dogs."
But Donny Rodgers, who owns two pit bulls, said the dogs are getting a bad rap. "Growing up, it was the German shepherd, the rottweiler, the Doberman pinscher and now it's the pit. What's next?" Rodgers said. Rodgers follows Akron's pit bull ordinance by registering the dogs every year, keeping them behind a tall fence and posting a sign that warns pit bulls are on the property. He eagerly supports the proposed Ohio law that would remove pit bulls from the definition of a vicious dog. "It's about time. It is, because it's really the owner. It's not the dog," he said.
State Rep. Barbara Sears, of Sylvania, is trying to get support for House Bill 79. She said it's inappropriate to label a specific breed.
But Powley disagrees, saying, "The way the dogs were bred for strength and tenacity, there's a feeling by a lot of people that pit bulls are just more dangerous." Powley said it's not likely that a change in Ohio law would take some of the teeth out of Akron's law, but it is possible. "The Supreme Court would probably end up making the decision whether the legislation supercedes our local ordinances," he said.
Sears said she's not trying to change pit bull laws in local communities. There's still a long way to go before this could become Ohio law. The House could vote on it over the summer.
To amend section 955.11 of the Revised Code to remove pit bulls from the definition of "vicious dog" in state law.
BE IT ENACTED BY THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY OF THE STATE OF OHIO:
Section 1. That section 955.11 of the Revised Code be amended to read as follows:
Sec. 955.11. (A) As used in this section:
(1)(a) "Dangerous dog" means a dog that, without provocation, and subject to division (A)(1)(b) of this section, has chased or approached in either a menacing fashion or an apparent attitude of attack, or has attempted to bite or otherwise endanger any person, while that dog is off the premises of its owner, keeper, or harborer and not under the reasonable control of its owner, keeper, harborer, or some other responsible person, or not physically restrained or confined in a locked pen
whichthat has a top, locked fenced yard, or other locked enclosure whichthat has a top.
(b) "Dangerous dog" does not include a police dog that has chased or approached in either a menacing fashion or an apparent attitude of attack, or has attempted to bite or otherwise endanger any person while the police dog is being used to assist one or more law enforcement officers in the performance of their official duties.
(2) "Menacing fashion" means that a dog would cause any person being chased or approached to reasonably believe that the dog will cause physical injury to that person.
(3) "Police dog" means a dog that has been trained, and may be used, to assist one or more law enforcement officers in the performance of their official duties.
(4)(a) "Vicious dog" means a dog that, without provocation and subject to division (A)(4)(b) of this section, meets
anyeither of the following:
(i) Has killed or caused serious injury to any person;
(ii) Has caused injury, other than killing or serious injury, to any person, or has killed another dog.
(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.
(b) "Vicious dog" does not include either of the following:
(i) A police dog that has killed or caused serious injury to any person or that has caused injury, other than killing or serious injury, to any person while the police dog is being used to assist one or more law enforcement officers in the performance of their official duties;
(ii) A dog that has killed or caused serious injury to any person while a person was committing or attempting to commit a trespass or other criminal offense on the property of the owner, keeper, or harborer of the dog.
(5) "Without provocation" means that a dog was not teased, tormented, or abused by a person, or that the dog was not coming to the aid or the defense of a person who was not engaged in illegal or criminal activity and who was not using the dog as a means of carrying out such activity.
(B) Upon the transfer of ownership of any dog, the seller of the dog shall give the buyer a transfer of ownership certificate that shall be signed by the seller. The certificate shall contain the registration number of the dog, the name of the seller, and a brief description of the dog. Blank forms of the certificate may be obtained from the county auditor. A transfer of ownership shall be recorded by the auditor upon presentation of a transfer of ownership certificate that is signed by the former owner of a dog and that is accompanied by a fee of twenty-five cents.
(C) Prior to the transfer of ownership or possession of any dog, upon the buyer's or other transferee's request, the seller or other transferor of the dog shall give to the person a written notice relative to the behavior and propensities of the dog.
(D) Within ten days after the transfer of ownership or possession of any dog, if the seller or other transferor of the dog has knowledge that the dog is a dangerous or vicious dog,
hethe seller or other transferor shall give to the buyer or other transferee, the board of health for the district in which the buyer or other transferee resides, and the dog warden of the county in which the buyer or other transferee resides, a completed copy of a written form on which the seller shall furnish the following information:
(1) The name and address of the buyer or other transferee of the dog;
(2) The age, sex, color, breed, and current registration number of the dog.
In addition, the seller shall answer the following questions, which shall be specifically stated on the form as follows:
"Has the dog ever chased or attempted to attack or bite a person? If yes, describe the incident(s) in which the behavior occurred."
"Has the dog ever bitten a person? If yes, describe the incident(s) in which the behavior occurred."
"Has the dog ever seriously injured or killed a person? If yes, describe the incident(s) in which the behavior occurred."
The dog warden of the county in which the seller resides shall furnish the form to the seller at no cost.
(E) No seller or other transferor of a dog shall fail to comply with the applicable requirements of divisions (B) to (D) of this section.
Section 2. That existing section 955.11 of the Revised Code is hereby repealed.
Barbara R. Sears, Representative
Barbara Sears' State Webpage