Written by JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN Sentinel County Editor
Friday, 25 May 2012 09:58
Ohio's new dog laws rank the temperament of dogs based on their behavior, not on their breed.
|File photo. Wood County Dog Warden Andrew Snyder.
Wood County Dog Warden Andrew Snyder recently met with the county commissioners to review the changes which went into effect earlier this week.
Under the old laws, pit bull type breeds were automatically deemed "dangerous." Under the new law, there are three categories of dogs, some which come with new requirements for their owners.
According to Snyder, if a dog meets the definition, the dog warden or law enforcement officer is required to designate a dog as a nuisance, dangerous, and/or vicious. All unprovoked dog bites will result in the dog's automatic designation as a dangerous or vicious dog.
The three new classifications of dogs are:
• "Nuisance" means a dog that without provocation and while off the premises of its owner, keeper, or harborer has chased or approached a person in either a menacing fashion or an apparent attitude of attack or has attempted to bite or otherwise endanger any person.
• "Dangerous" means a dog that, without provocation, has done any of the following: caused injury, other than killing or serious injury, to any person; killed another dog; has been found running loose three or more times. That means any dog, whose owner is cited three times for it running loose, will be declared "dangerous."
• "Vicious" means a dog that, without provocation, has killed or caused serious injury to any person.
Snyder explained to the commissioners that since 2002, nearly 1,500 dog bites have been recorded in the county. That includes 131 in 2010, 105 in 2001, and 35 for the first four months of this year.
Wood County Administrator Andrew Kalmar said the changes to the law will be far reaching.
"Before it was just a single breed," Kalmar said of the dangerous dog classifications. "Initially, I would expect this will cause some additional activity."
The law is now really encouraging dog owners to be responsible for their pets, he said.
"That's what it really comes down to," Kalmar said.
Dog owners whose dogs have been deemed a nuisance, dangerous, or vicious will receive notice from the dog warden or law enforcement.
"Owners can challenge the designation of a dog at a hearing," Snyder said. To get a hearing, the owner must file the request in writing within 10 days of the designation to the municipal or county court that has territorial jurisdiction over the residence of the dog's owner.
The owner of a "dangerous" or "vicious" dog must comply with the following requirements:
• Post signs indicating the presence of a dangerous or vicious dog
• Spay or neuter the dog
• Microchip the dog
• Obtain and maintain current rabies vaccinations
• May have to obtain specific liability insurance coverage
• Must register the dangerous or vicious dog annually
The required registration of a dangerous or vicious dog with the Wood County Auditor costs $50 annually. This is in addition to the regular annual dog registration and license fee of $14, or $28 if purchased after the required deadline.
Confinement of the dangerous or vicious dog must also be in accordance with new, stricter requirements. People who are convicted of or plead guilty to certain felony offenses may not own or reside in a residence with a dangerous dog or an unspayed or unneutered dog older than 12 weeks of age.
Anyone wanting more information on the new law may contact the Wood County Dog Shelter at (419) 354-9242 or visit www.co.wood.oh.us.