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Responsible Dog Owners Vindicated in Buckeye State

New York, NY The American Kennel Club applauds the Sixth District Court of Appeals in Ohio for handing responsible dog owners a monumental victory earlier this month, when it ruled that local and state breed-specific “vicious” dog laws were unconstitutional on equal protection and due process grounds, as well as being unconstitutionally vague.

The Court held that a Toledo ordinance limiting ownership to one “pit bull” per household and an Ohio law which penalizes a pit bull owner who does not provide liability insurance violated several constitutional rights, including the right to due process. The Appellate Court believed, just as the Ohio State Supreme Court did in 2004, that such laws do not provide owners with an opportunity to appeal a “vicious” dog finding before being penalized or charged with non-compliance, thereby violating their right to be heard and to defend their property.

“The victory in Ohio serves as a valuable precedent for future efforts to prevent or overturn breed-specific legislation,” said AKC’s Vice President of Communications, Noreen Baxter. “We have long claimed that breed-specific legislation is unconstitutional; now we have a specific Court decision on record that supports our claim. This ruling is extremely significant to those who have argued against breed-specific legislation for so many years.”

The court further noted that the laws were unconstitutional in violating an owner’s right to equal protection since there is no rational basis to single out pit bulls as inherently dangerous. The ruling noted that breed-specific laws, “have in the past been enacted based on outdated information that perpetuates a stereotypical image of pit bulls.” The Court found no new evidence to prove that these breeds are any more dangerous than others. Regulating or limiting pit bull ownership was therefore “arbitrary, unreasonable and discriminatory.”

AKC President and CEO Dennis B. Sprung praised the court’s finding that “these breed-specific laws were unconstitutionally vague due to the fact that there is no accurate way to properly identify a pit bull.”

“The AKC, along with countless responsible dog owners, has opposed breed-specific laws for years in favor of reasonable, enforceable dangerous dog laws that hold all owners responsible for their dogs’ behavior, regardless of breed,” Sprung added. “We are hopeful that this case will demonstrate to legislators that stringent dangerous dog laws, not breed-specific legislation, are the best way to address issues in their communities and states. ”

To read this ruling in its entirety, please click here.