The Ohio Coalition of Dog Advocates works to change breed-discriminatory laws.
The Ohio Coalition of Dog Advocates (OCDA) is a non-profit, all volunteer organization that advocates for legislation to improve the human-canine bond. We work to educate both the public and politicians about responsible dog guardianship. One of our primary areas of expertise is breed-neutral dangerous dog laws.
Ohio is the only state that discriminates statewide against dogs who share a cluster of physical traits. These traits were intended to identify “pit bull” type dogs, but in reality they are so broad that they encompass over 20 different breeds.
Currently OCDA is working with State Representative Barbara Sears to change Ohio’s breed discriminatory law. House Bill 14 seeks to redefine dangerous dogs and vicious dogs by behavior and not by breed. HB14 has been voted out of committee and is waiting for a vote by the Ohio House of Representatives. If you live in Ohio, please call your representative today and ask that they support this important piece of legislation. You can find your representative and follow the bill on our website: OhioCoalitionofDogAdvocates.com
In the spring of 2010 OCDA partnered with Best Friends Animal Society in hosting an educational event in Cleveland. This event featured U.S. women’s soccer player, Cat Whitehill. The event was held at a local school where Cat played soccer with the students and discussed kindness to animals. Several local rescue organizations were also invited to attend, and they brought adoptable pit bulls. During this event, I had the opportunity to meet and chat with Councilman Matt Zone.
Over the next six months, Matt and I corresponded about dangerous dog laws, and I shared with him my work in the city of Toledo (OCDA helped replace Toledo’s pit bull ordinance with a breed-neutral dangerous dog law). In April of 2011, OCDA presented a draft of a breed-neutral dangerous dog law to a small working group of Cleveland city councilmen. Chief Dog Warden John Baird was also included in the working group and was in full support of moving towards a breed-neutral ordinance.
Throughout the month of May, the draft was debated and tweaked, until finally it was ready for presentation to the safety committee. It passed the safety committee unanimously and very quickly moved through the finance and legislation committees. Ultimately, on June 6, 2011, the city of Cleveland unanimously passed the ordinance into law, and Cleveland joined Toledo in becoming breed neutral.
Our deepest thanks go to Councilman Matt Zone and Chief Dog Warden John Baird for their insight and leadership. Because of their dedication and passion, Cleveland has taken a monumental step forward in becoming a safer and more humane community.
Now that Toledo and Cleveland have adopted breed-neutral dangerous dog laws, OCDA plans to turn its attention to Cincinnati. Cincinnati currently has a ban on “pit bull” type dogs that is very discriminatory. This ban punishes responsible dog guardians, while allowing other breeds a “free pass” for dangerous behavior. While we will continue to work on changing the state law, we feel that we must speak out in Cincinnati and end the senseless killing of wonderful family dogs.
By Jean Keating
All photos courtesy of Ohio Coalition of Dog Advocates