Pit bull owners in Ohio will no longer feel like pariahs simply for their choice of dog breed. A new law takes effect May 22 declaring that pit bulls are no longer automatically considered "vicious" dogs.


"When pit bulls were labeled vicious, residents who love their dogs were afraid to take their dogs out in public," said Marlo Slusarski, director of community outreach for For the Love of Pits, a nonprofit rescue group based in Northeast Ohio.


Since 2003, pit bulls have been legally considered vicious dogs and banned within the city limits of Cincinnati.  The city council approved a motion last week removing pit bulls from the ordinance that defines a vicious dog.


This week, state lawmakers have joined the push, overturning the state law that defined pit bulls as "dangerous and vicious" dogs. The Ohio senate voted 27 to 5 in favor of House Bill 14, removing pit bulls from the 20-year-old definition, which will now define "vicious," "dangerous" and "nuisance" dogs without regard to breed. The new law, however, will not overturn pit bull bans in Ohio communities that have passed local laws.


The change in language will now allow pit bull owners to be eligible for standard insurance premiums, and shelters will be able to advocate for the adoption of pit bulls. For the Love of Pits is celebrating the new law by offering free vaccinations for pit bulls of low-income Cleveland residents.


For complete details, see House Bill 14.


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