The city of Highland Heights, Ohio has begun taking steps to change its law pertaining to “vicious dogs” to be more in step with the new Ohio state law.
Residents of Highland Heights are strongly encouraged to reach out to their city officials and thank them for taking this matter under consideration. Please encourage them to move forward with removing the breed specific language from their current ordinance and craft a strong, breed-neutral ordinance that is in line with the new state law.
Highland Heights City Council ponders a change in city’s vicious dog ordinance
Published: Saturday, July 21, 2012
HIGHLAND HTS. — The city has begun taking steps to change its law pertaining to vicious dogs to make it more in keeping with the new state law.
City Council’s Committee-of-the-Whole met July 17 with HHPD Chief James Cook and City Prosecutor Daniel Taylor to discuss how the change in state law affects Highland Heights.
The state law, passed in May, removes the breed specific naming of pit bulls as a vicious dog. Ohio had been the only state to specifically name a breed as vicious.
The new state law leaves in it the old language that has a dog being labeled vicious if it has seriously hurt or killed a person or another dog.
“Our old law really isn’t enforceable,” Taylor told council of the city law that mirrored state law. “The idea that a dog, by breed, is vicious, would not be upheld by the courts.”
Cook said he believes only two Greater Cleveland cities have taken the step to update their vicious dog law. Bay Village, whose law also mirrored the state’s, is one of those communities.
Taylor and Cook suggested adding an appeals process for any dog accused of being vicious, having attacked a person or another dog. Those appeals, Taylor stated, should go the Lyndhurst Municipal Court.
In the past, Council President Cathy Murphy said, appeals made in Highland Heights were heard by the city’s Board of Zoning Appeals. She recalled being at one of those hearings in which the fate of a dog who had killed another dog was being determined.
According to Cook, incidents involving vicious dogs haven’t been plentiful.
“We’ve had five or six in the last four or five years that have been declared vicious,” Cook said.
“Even though there haven’t been many cases in our city,” Murphy said, “when it does happen it is devastating, devastating to those involved.”
Council will revisit the issue and check on the progress of the new ordinance as it is being developed in September.