Pit Bull discrimination ends in Ohio

Pit Bull dog breed advocates in Ohio and beyond have something to celebrate. Yesterday Ohio Governor John Kasich (R) signed on the dotted line, making Ohio House Bill 14 an official law. HB 14 is a piece of legislation that will create a new and more refined system for defining a dog as potentially dangerous, removing the American Pit Bull Terrier and other “Bully breeds” from the list of automatically “vicious” dogs.

Actress Maggie Q was one of many celebrities who supported HB 14. (Photo credit: Torontoverve)

Previous law, which had been in place for 25 years, defines a “vicious” dog as, among other things, a dog that “belongs to a breed that is commonly known as a Pit Bull dog.” Ohio had been the only state in the country to deem a dog dangerous because of appearance rather than behavior. Thankfully, with the passage of HB 14, Ohio’s statewide breed discrimination is now at an end.

HB 14, sponsored by Ohio Rep. Barbara Sears (R-Monclava Township), establishes more specific criteria as to what constitutes a “vicious” or “dangerous” dog, focusing on unprovoked behavior that results in the serious injury or death of a person. The bill also defines a new category, “nuisance” dogs, or dogs that have attempted to bite or chase down a person while off of their owner’s property. Additionally, HB 14 offers a process for which owners can appeal classifications.

The fight to pass HB 14 gained celebrity attention; singer-songwriter Willie Nelson, actress Maggie Q, and actor Ian Somerhalder all voiced their support via letters, Twitter campaigns, and public service announcements.

Animal advocates, including the Best Friends Animal Society, who was instrumental in the creation of HB 14, are pleased that the new law will take the heat off of good dogs and instead punish irresponsible owners.