Ohio HB 55 must pass the Senate by December

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

7 responses to “Ohio HB 55 must pass the Senate by December

  1. Any dog can be vicious

  2. In my town, the animal shelter is right now trying to adopt out a pit bull mix, but because of the laws here, the shelter is calling the dog a boxer mix. People are really pathetic!!!!! I can only hope that this bill passes and many more in favor of the pit bull breeds……

  3. i dont care what the BS law is. i have 2 pits and NOTHING and NO ONE can take them from me!!

  4. i’m being evicted bc i have a “pit bull” i can not find the law of my “county” anywhere… is there anything you can tell me about the city of westchester, county of butler, in the state of ohio? the whole family loves him and he’s so sweet and precious, and doesn’t deserve to die, or another family (which we cant even find) who couldn’t love him as much as we do.. he’s never ever done anything wrong.. his only crime is… he’s a certain “breed” which is crap… thank you so much please let me know if you know anything about the law here???

    • Missi,

      Ohio has statewide BSL that declares all “pit bull” type dogs to be automatically “vicious” dogs. So whatever the law is for “vicious” dogs in your county/city, that is the law that applies to you and your dog–in addition to the statewide “pit bull”-specific requirements. However, do not confuse separate issues here. If you are living on private property (that is, an apartment or residence that is not owned by the government), then the owners of that property are (usually) free to choose what types of dogs are allowed on their property. That is at the discretion of the property owner, not the city/county/state law.

  5. wow.. thank you… i did read that its a statewide ban.. but there are some issues going on about it… but i do live on private property unfortunetly.. but they’re singling us out… there are several other “pit bulls” here, and “forbidden” breeds and such as well… i’m just trying to figure out what kind of fight i can give to keep my baby :-(

    • It’s not a statewide ban, just statewide restrictions–I believe it’s a muzzle-in-public and liability insurance requirement for all pit bull owners in the state. However, individual cities/counties in OH can pass bans or heavier restrictions if they so choose. In your case, however, since the issue is with a property owner, then the laws that apply will be tenant/renter laws. If you think you are being singled out for some reason that violates tenant laws in your state/city, then you might consult a lawyer to better understand how to fight eviction. But those issues are somewhat outside the scope of this site. :) Otherwise, look around for a different property that will allow you to rent with your dog. Good luck.