Pit Bulls have good reason to flash their trademark smiles, as Ohio governor John Kasich has just signed House Bill (HB) 14 into law, ending the only statewide breed-specific legislation in the United States. Previously, the state of Ohio designated Pit Bulls as vicious dogs. With the passage of HB 14, the state legislature introduced a graded system based on behavior, not appearance. There are now three categories of problem dog: nuisance, dangerous and vicious, with sanctions appropriate to the level of aggressive behavior.
Both Ledy VanKavage of Best Friends Animal Society and Jean Keating of the Ohio Coalition of Dog Advocates have suggested this is good not only for the families of Pit Bulls, who are no longer legally required to purchase insurance policies, but also shelters, which are now free to house and adopt out rescued Pit Bulls.
According to Stacey Coleman, executive director of Animal Farm Foundation, there are twelve states that have passed statewide pre-emptions against breed-specific legislation: California, Colorado, Florida, Illinois, Maine, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Texas and Washington. While HB 14 represents yet another state shifting to behavior-based animal-control laws, the work of Pit Bull advocates is far from over. Municipal and county laws around the country are still in place, designating Pit Bulls as a vicious breed, and thus requiring transfer or euthanization of these misunderstood dogs.