Bill would change 'vicious' status of pit bulls - - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

Bill would change 'vicious' status of pit bulls

TOLEDO, OH (WTOL) – A new vicious dog bill is headed to the Governor's desk that could change the status of pit bulls as "vicious."

For the past 25 years, pit bulls have been considered a part of Ohio's vicious dog law, making it the only state in the nation to do so.

The Ohio House signed the bill on Wednesday, and Governor Kasich is also expected to sign it into law.

The bill re-defines nuisance, dangerous and vicious dogs in Ohio, and removes pit bulls from being automatically classified as vicious. It will make Dog Wardens focus on behavior of dogs, instead of appearance.

"I just think we need to join the other 49 states that recognize a dog at its birth is no more vicious than a human is at its birth." says State Representative Barbara Sears, who sponsored the bill.

Sears explains that it is a matter of nature versus nurture. She says that a dog's behavior depends on how they're trained and raised, more than their specific breed.

"All stats, all research, all of them prove that labeling by breed is completely inappropriate and does nothing to protect the public." said Sears.

Some Dog Wardens, including former Lucas County Dog Warden Tom Skeldon, oppose the bill, saying pit bulls are inherently dangerous and attack often.

Current Lucas County Dog Warden Julie Lyle says that the new law is a step in the right direction:

"Any dog can bite, any dog can cause damage so I think it's important we have the tools to hold all dog owners responsible, not just pit bull owners."

Lyle says the bills adds critical due process for the owners of vicious dogs, and will have a big impact on the warden's department:

"Where we used to cite people for particular codes, those are changing. So the way our deputies perform on the road everyday is going to change dramatically as far as paperwork and things like that."

Lyle says her department is currently deciding whether or not they will begin to adopt out pit bulls.

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