Ohio House approves amendment to end state’s pit bull law
By JIM PROVANCE
BLADE COLUMBUS BUREAU CHIEF
Article published May 27, 2010
COLUMBUS – The Ohio House Thursday overwhelmingly voted to end Ohio’s status as the only state that declares the “pit bull” an inherently vicious dog by virtue of its existence.
“I’m offering this amendment to ensure that we’re not capturing, impounding, and terminating an animal simply based on its breed,” said Rep. Matt Szollosi (D., Oregon). “It is unjust to punish owners by taking their pet even if they have raised a well-behaved, family-friendly dog.”
No lawmaker spoke out on the floor against the amendment, which was added by a vote of 86-10 to a bill increasing penalties for animal cruelty.
If the Senate agrees, the measure would remove a provision that has been in Ohio law since 1987 that automatically deems the “pit bull” legally “vicious,” subjecting the owners to additional restrictions and liability insurance requirements not automatically attached to other breeds of dogs.
The animal-cruelty bill had been scheduled for a vote Wednesday, but it was suddenly pulled from the calendar after Rep. Barbara Sears (R., Maumee) filed her “pit bull” amendment. Her bill to remove the “pit bull” language had received two hearings but has remained mired in a House committee.
When the cruelty bill came to a vote Thursday, Mr. Szollosi in the majority party offered the amendment instead. The final bill went on to pass 93-3.
It is unlikely, however, that the Republican-controlled Senate will address the measure before it recesses for the summer. That could happen as early as next week.
Rep. Dennis Murray (D., Sandusky) said he once opposed repeal of the law, but has since changed his mind.
“I don’t like pit bulls,” he said. “I have no idea why anyone would want one. But I don’t like lima beans either, and I don’t know why anyone would want to eat them.”
Opponents of the bill have cited the attraction of the animals to criminals involved in dog-fighting and drug dealing.
The Ohio Supreme Court has upheld the constitutionality of the state’s current breed-specific law, saying statistics have backed up the state’s contention that the “pit bull” is more likely to do more damage when it attacks and is more likely to prompt police to discharge their firearms