Ohio Town Changes Law – No Breed Will Automatically Be Deemed “Vicious”

We’ve all heard of certain dog breeds getting a bad rap – including Pit Bulls and Rottweilers – even when an incredible majority of those dogs are demonstrably wonderful family companions.

On Monday night, the city council of Newark, Ohio realized how unfair it is to categorize an entire breed as dangerous and voted 6-5 to approve a major proposal. Within 30 days, the city will remove all breed-specific language from its “vicious” dog designation. Under the new ordinance, only dogs who have killed or caused serious injury to humans without provocation will be labeled vicious.


The ordinance won’t be breaking any ground in Ohio, which already labels dogs vicious based on actual offenses, though towns can make their own local rules. (See town-by-town rules here.) Once the ordinance goes into effect, pet parents whose dogs hurt people will face fines and misdemeanor charges. If a parent’s dog kills someone, a felony charge may be in their future. Either way, it could mean jail time, but it’s actually more forgiving than the old ordinance.

Under the old rules, a pet parent whose dog seriously injured someone – not killed someone – could face a felony charge. The Columbus Dispatch reports that most of the council members who voted down the ordinance worry about the downgrade in violation classification. But Jeff Rath, the legislation’s sponsor, says the change actually will make it more likely that pet parents will serve jail time.


Local Pit Bull parents no longer will have to get special tags or liability insurance for the dogs either.

Skip Swendryck, a Newarker who parents two Pit Bulls, tells NBC 4/Columbus that “if you are a responsible owner of a dog, I don’t feel like they should be deemed vicious unless they’ve done something to get that name.”

I don’t think it’s the breed at all I think, it’s how people raise them really.

It seems that the city is finally catching up with that sentiment.

H/t The Columbus Dispatch, NBC 4/Columbus

Feature image via Hugo A. Quintero/WikiMedia

Dr. Katy Nelson

6 years ago