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Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Ohio Bill Would Put Dog Owners on a Short Leash

Posted By on Wed, Feb 15, 2012 at 9:47 AM


When Rufus the pit bull takes a bite out of your neighbor, Rufus has just eaten his last meal. It’s all part of Ohio’s endearingly Old Testament take on animal aggressiveness, though it pertains to only pit bulls.

But a new bill that has already shot through the state legislature could now test Governor Kasich’s interest in pissing off even more human Ohioans.

HB14 is what’s known among pet pamperers as a “breed-neutral” bill, meaning that the law would fall on the side of Rufus and Wiggles, or any other breed of dog — and decidedly against the schmuck who cleans up after them.

The new law would allow wardens to target the owner of any dog that exhibits erratic behavior — even if it’s on a leash. After a hearing, the dog can be classified as a nuisance, vicious, or dangerous, and sanctions put in place that could include requirement of insurance or a fenced-in yard. In some cases, the owner could be stripped of his right to own a dog at all.

The governor is expected to sign the bill into law, though nobody seems to know when that might happen. In 2011, Kasich repealed a law regarding ownership of exotic animals, a controversal move that was followed by a safari-style police shooting spree that put Zanesville on the nutbag map last fall.
Currently, Ohio is the only state that singles out pit bulls, while obnoxious Chihuahuas and Yorkies get a free pass. If passed, the new law could still be trumped by more stringent local laws.

Toledo-area resident Jean Keating, president of the Ohio Coalition of Dog Activists and a pit-bull owner, says the current law, passed in 1987, was “a very quick knee-jerk reaction to a death by a pit bull. But last year, a Great Dane killed someone,” she adds. Even a Yorkshire terrier killed somebody in recent years, and so did a Siberian husky.

“Our laws are so lax, we’re just a haven [for animal abuse],” Keating says. Her group is fighting on many fronts, including a move to ban dog auctions, regulate puppy mills, and increase penalties for animal abusers. Plus there’s the sex thing too.

“Ohio is one of the few states that has no bill against sex with animals,” says Keating. A new anti-bestiality bill, which somebody at the statehouse is pretty sure we need, is floundering because somebody else at the statehouse wants to reduce the proposed penalties against people who have marital relations with barnyard creatures.

And with that, we leave you with two bonus lines to insert your favorite legislator joke.

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