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Pit bulls deleted from dog law

February 23, 2012
By MARK LAW - Staff writer ((Law can be contacted at , The Herald-Star

STEUBENVILLE - "Dogs aren't vicious. People make them that way," said Debbie Welsch, Jefferson County Humane Society board member, reacting to a new Ohio law that removes pit bulls as being defined as vicious dogs.

Gov. John Kasich on Tuesday signed a new law that defines a vicious dog as one that has seriously hurt or killed a person or killed another dog, The new measure removes the reference to pit bulls from the definition and requires evidence to prove pit bulls or any other dog are actually vicious.

Welsch said there are many "wonderful" dobermans, Rottweilers and pit bulls, all that once were labeled as being vicious.

"All dogs have teeth and will bite. The bigger the dog, the bigger the bite. You have to exercise caution and make sure to teach your dog acceptable behavior," Welsch said.

City Police Chief William McCafferty said police now will have to prove that a dog had a prior incident or bite.

"It will lengthen the process for us. It will take longer to take care of the dog that has bitten someone," he said.

The police chief said the department's animal control officer will continue to pick up stray dogs and write citations for no dog registration.

The city did require owners of pit bulls to purchase vicious dog insurance and violators were cited. But McCafferty said he believed most pit bull owners didn't get the insurance until they were forced.

Welsch said the law signed by Kasich is a victory for pit bulls and other breeds that once were considered vicious.

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