In May 2012 a new law passed in Ohio changed how dogs are classified as vicious dogs. Before the law pit bull type dogs were automatically classified as inherently dangerous, regardless of their behavior or temperament. Most animal scientists have debunked the myth that pit bull type dogs are inherently dangerous, and that vicious dogs is a matter of nurture, not nature. The new law reflects this view. Under the new law the state no longer defines a vicious dog by breed but dogs are classified vicious based on past behavior.
The new law outlines three categories of problematic dogs: nuisance, dangerous and vicious. A dog can only be labeled vicious if it seriously injures or kills a human. Dogs earn the label dangerous is they bite a person, kill or injure another animal or are found running loose on at least 3 occasions. Dogs that chase or attempt to bite a person fall into the nuisance category. These are the guidelines for the classifications, there is an exception for when a person is attacked after attempting to trespass or commit a crime on the dog owner’s property.
The law also designates actions the owners must take if their dog qualifies into one of the three categories. Nuisance dog owners may be ordered to get training and can be charged with misdemeanor offenses. Dangerous dog owners and vicious dog owners must keep their dogs inside or in an enclosed yard. They must also post warning signs. When taking a dangerous or vicious dog out in public the owners must keep their dog on a leash no longer than six feet and keep the dog muzzled at all times. In very serious cases an owner may be forced to euthanize a vicious dog. Finally owners of dangerous and vicious dogs are required to carry at least $100,000 in liability insurance in case of dog bite lawsuits.