Ohio is the only state in the U.S. that has statewide BSL. Ohio HB 55 (was HB 79) would remove the automatic classification of all “pit bulls” as “vicious.” It has passed the House and is currently sitting in the Senate Judiciary Criminal Justice Committee. If the bill is not passed by the Senate by the time the legislative session ends in December, it will die.
As StopBSL has noted many times before, Ohio’s statewide BSL has done absolutely nothing to improve public safety or the humane treatment of animals. It has also resulted in the unequal treatment of dog bite victims, as in the case of Theresa Shoemaker mentioned in this article, or the case of Julie Sheil last year–if the dog that attacks isn’t a “pit bull,” dog wardens have limited options.
It’s become such a problem that this author has actually personally witnessed a dog warden asking fellow wardens how to re-identify a dog that she knew was not a “pit bull,” so as to declare it a “pit bull” and therefore be able to prosecute the irresponsible owner under the much stricter “pit bull” laws. This author does not doubt that the disproportionate number of biting “pit bulls” cited in this article is due not only to owners’ disinclination to register their dogs as “pit bulls” (thereby setting themselves up for legalized discrimination throughout the entire state), and not only due to the “vicious” stereotype perpetuated by state law that encourages sub-par owners to choose and misuse pit bulls, but also to Ohio dog wardens’ (somewhat understandable) tendency to over-label biting dogs as “pit bulls” so as to be able to actually do something. The discriminatory state law creates more problems than it solves.
Pit bulls at center of vicious dog debate
By Ken McCall and Margo Rutledge Kissell, Staff Writers
6:36 PM Saturday, October 30, 2010
State Rep. Barbara Sears wants Ohio to stop defining one breed of dog — the pit bull — as inherently vicious.[…]
Although the measure passed the Ohio House as part of a larger animal cruelty bill, it’s not clear if it will reach the full Senate before the two-year legislative session ends in December.[…]
Sears said the law would still define as vicious any dog that, without provocation, has killed or injured a person or has killed another dog. “The only thing it takes away is the absolute presumption pit bulls are by definition violent and vicious,” she said.[…]
Shawn Webster, a Butler County veterinarian and former state representative, tried but failed to get legislation passed during the 2005-06 session that would have removed the pit bull definition. He believes Ohio’s singling out of the breed has helped foster the vicious stereotype, and led gang members and drug dealers to seek them as status symbols and for protection.
“From that point on, the population of pit bulls exploded,” he said. “I think it’s put a stereotype on this breed that’s been harmful to everyone involved.”[…]
Full article retrieved 10/30/10 from http://www.daytondailynews.com/news/dayton-news/pit-bulls-at-center-of-vicious-dog-debate-990538.html