On May 22 the Ohio law covering vicious dogs was changed to remove the
specific reference to pit bulls. While pit bull owners are applauding
the rewording of the law, others are concerned that it may lead to more
attacks by the dogs that are notorious for their aggressive behavior.
Lisa Wooley, a dog owner in Hilliard, Ohio, spoke with PetsLady.com about the change in the wording of the law. She said that she is conflicted about the change because it is a complicated issue. "Any dog can be vicious. Even my mutt could be. . . if he had been trained to be," Lisa commented, referring to her beloved Labrador-Spaniel mix. The proper training and upbringing in a dog can make all the difference in a dog and that dog's ability to curb aggressive tendencies.
Patricia Wolff-Keaton, also of Hilliard, owned a Great Dane-Rottweiler mix for many years that many people mistook for being a pit bull. One of her neighbors is a pit bull owner and she knows the dog to be very sweet and even tempered. A vociferous champion of dogs, Tricia told PetsLady.com that she wholeheartedly agrees with the change in the law, to the point that she had called her state representatives and encouraged them to vote to change the law. She agrees with Lisa that training is crucial and that any dog can be made vicious through abuse or neglect. She also cited a 2010 case in Ohio where a pit bull that had attacked twice had been given cocaine by its owners.
"I wish people would realize that pit bulls are just dogs," she said.
Karen Delise, Director of Research at the National Canine Research Council, has written a book about the myths and social realities of animal aggression in her book, The Pit Bull Placebo. This well-researched book reviews the truths behind dog attacks and how the pit bull, once one of America's most respected dog breeds, has fallen from grace. For a free PDF download of Karen's book, click here.
The origins of the pit bull breed are believed to go back to the Molussi tribe in ancient Greece. They liked to use sturdy, muscular dogs in warfare. The dog was most likely used for other purposed, including commercial trading. Through the centuries the dogs were spread throughout Europe via the Roman Empire and crossbred through many generations of bull dogs. The dogs were widely used for "baiting" or fighting for entertainment purposes. When English immigrants came to the New World they brought along their dogs. In America the dogs were also used in fighting rings. However, as people pushed west the dogs took on a wider and more humane role as they herded livestock and guarded family and crops. It wasn't until 1898 that the American Pit Bull Terrier became a recognized breed by the United Kennel Association.
Detractors of the pit bull say that breeders and owners have created a number of myths around the breed that has allowed for attacks to become more common over the past 30 years. They claim that such myths as "It's the owner not the breed," or "Fatal statistics about pit bulls are false," are perpetuated by those who support the breed. These detractors believe that the breed is unpredictable and has a reckless nature that is bound to lead to the tragic pit bull attacks that the American public has been witness to over the years. Blogs such as Maul Talk Manual and The Truth About Pit Bulls discuss problems with the denial of issues with pit bulls as a breed and unethical breeding practices when it comes to pit bulls.
Whichever side of the issue you look at it certainly is a contentious one. While specific reference to pit bulls has been removed from the law, it does not exclude them from being vicious. The change in the law is merely a rewording that takes the focus off pit bulls so that they are not solely seen as vicious. The law states that a vicious dog is one that has seriously hurt or killed a person, or has killed another dog. This leaves the field wide open as to the particular breeds involved.