Ohio’s Pit Bulls; no longer vicious?
by Rana Odeh
Toledo has wasted time and resources, making the city less safe, by taking the breed specifications toward Pit Bulls out of the vicious dog definition, instead of focusing its energy on much more important socio-economic issues such as unemployment. Beside the fact that there are many more important things to consider other than judging the viciousness of a dog based on its breed, this new vote is really upsetting because it puts citizens at a greater risk for the sake of protecting the integrity of a dog. The old dog law labeled all dangerous dogs including Pit Bulls as those that chase after people in a violent or menacing manner, attempt to bite or otherwise endanger, or that kill or injure a person, and required the owners of such dogs to follow many guidelines regarding the constraint of the dog. It also required them to have a minimum of $100,000 in liability insurance. In other words, the old law was very cautious and took no risks; it put the safety of citizens before dogs, and required preventative restrictions on Pit Bulls before an attack. The new proposed law voted on by the Ohio House that no longer includes Pit Bull in the definition of vicious dog, puts all citizens at a great risk of being violently chased, harassed, bitten, mauled or killed by a Pit Bull, because the owners of Pit Bulls no longer have to follow such strict guidelines until, yes I said until, the dog attacks.
A dog attack is a little too late to label such a dog as vicious; it is unfortunate that the state has even considered “protecting” Pit Bulls from … I’m not sure what really, to the detriment of people’s safety. The old law was not cruel toward dogs, it was just cautious toward the rest of the public; what it has done now, is make Pit Bull ownership much more lenient and less responsible. The revised law gives room for an owner, harborer or keeper of a dog that has already been labeled as vicious, to fail to muzzle the dog three times (that is, the vicious dog can be reported to be without a muzzle three times) before the owner is required to purchase the liability insurance on the dog. It simply does not make sense to allow a dog that is considered to be vicious based on its previous bad behavior, to roam around without a muzzle on three occasions before the owner is held responsible for insurance, when the dog should have always been muzzled to prevent the original attack, which labeled it vicious in the first place.
Pit Bulls were bred to be vicious dog pit fighters, hence their name. Their vicious behavior is not learned, it is imbedded in their genes after years of intentionally breeding them to become monsters. Every single study on dog bites that includes breed shows that Pit Bulls bite more frequently and more violently than any other breed, causing the most dog-bite fatalities. Their jaws are stronger than any other dogs’, their bite is specifically damaging with their hold and shake tactic, they have much more muscle and power than most breeds and they are extremely unpredictable. The myth that it is the owner’s fault if a Pit Bull attacks has proven to be unreasonable; according to a study conducted by dogsbite.org, from 2005-2009, 44 percent of Pit Bull attacks involved a family member and their Pit Bull. Just like you can’t train a shark to be well behaved, you can’t train a Pit Bull. They are blood-hungry beasts and you cannot blame the owner for “creating” the monster; we should, however, impose certain responsibilities on anybody who chooses to own this breed and hold him/her accountable.
In 2007, the Supreme Court of Ohio ruled that a Toledo city ordinance that restricts and regulates the ownership of Pit Bulls does not violate the constitutional rights of dog owners. The majority of the court relied heavily on the negative facts of Pit Bulls that were proved in the trial court and the court’s majority opinion stated that there is “substantial evidence” that:
“[P]it bulls, compared to other breeds, cause a disproportionate amount of danger to people. The chief dog warden of Lucas County testified that: (1) when Pit Bulls attack, they are more likely to inflict severe damage to their victim than other breeds of dogs; (2) Pit Bulls have killed more Ohioans than any other breed of dog; (3) Toledo police officers fire their weapons in the line of duty at Pit Bulls more often than they fire weapons at people and all other breeds of dogs combined; (4) Pit Bulls are frequently shot during drug raids because Pit Bulls are encountered more frequently in drug raids than any other dog breed … The evidence presented in the trial court supports the conclusion that Pit Bulls pose a serious danger to the safety of citizens. The state and the city have a legitimate interest in protecting citizens from the danger posed by this breed of domestic dogs.”
Considering all the statistics that define the Pit Bull breed as the most dangerous dog, why shouldn’t lawmakers be extra careful? It’s like assuming a shark could be kind and trained to integrate with humans, allowing children to swim in a pool with sharks and not requiring the owner of the shark to take serious precautionary action; it’s a disaster waiting happen.
Rana Odeh is a graduate of the University of Dayton with a degree in English and Philosophy. Her research and writings focus on issues of race, class and gender. She can be reached at RanaOdeh@DaytonCityPaper.com.