August 28, 2016

Chako Rescue Association

OHIO - Part of Dangerous Dog Legislation Unconstitutional

September 27, 2004

The Supreme Court of Ohio has ruled that part of the state's dangerous dog legislation is unconstitutional.

Specifically, the court determined that a statute that penalizes owners of dangerous dogs who fail to:

  • buy liability insurance and
  • properly confine their animals
was unconstitutional.

The court determined that under the law (R.C. 955.22) as it is currently written a dog owner was not provided with right to due process as it did not give the owner(s) a change to appeal a dangerous dog determination at an adminstrative hearing.

Furthermore, the ruling affirmed that since the statute imposed significant restrictions and expenses on a person’s property - namely their dogs - owners have a constitutional right to be heard and to defend their property.

This ruling could have a positive or negative result for dog owners, as legislators must now consider revisions to their legislation. In particular, Ohio is the only state with a breed-specific clause that applies to 'pit bulls'. Under the current legislation 'pit bulls' are automatically deemed to be 'vicious' dogs.

Some are concerned that when legislators review the legislation they may add additional breeds to their list or impose additional restrictions on dog owners.

Others believe that this may represent an opportunity to overturn the breed-specific nature of the current legislation and to make appropriate improvements to the law.

Take Action:
Ohio residents are encouraged to write to your county, city and state legislators. (Contacts can be found at: ) Explain that you oppose breed specific legislation and ask them to revise the dangerous dog law following the AKC suggested guidelines:

  • Establish a fair process by which specific dogs are identified as “dangerous” based on stated, measurable actions. Such a process should include the right to appeal dangerous dog determination before a municipal court or hearing board.
  • Impose appropriate penalties on irresponsible owners.
  • Establish a well-defined method for dealing with dogs proven to be dangerous.
  • Do not single out specific breeds of dogs. Deeds, not breeds, should be addressed.
Source for guidelines: AKC

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