Pit bulls in Newark, Ohio now have a chance to prove they are good citizens and lose the automatic designation of “vicious-dog.” The ordinance was passed by the city council by an 8-1 vote last night, with at-large councilman Ryan Bubb casting the lone opposing vote.
Under the new ordinance, pit bulls will be removed from vicious status if they undergo formal training and annually pass a canine good citizenship test. Once this is accomplished, the “vicious-dog” status will be dropped, and their owners can walk them muzzle-free through the streets of Newark.
Pit bull advocates who were pushing for this change feel the move is a step in the right direction. As noted in previous posts, one of their stated goals was to remove the negative stigma attached to pit bulls (and their owners) due to the automatic vicious status.
Currently, city law automatically designates pit bulls as vicious, whether or not they have exhibited any dangerous or vicious behavior. Pit bull owners must maintain liability insurance, register their dogs with the city, and walk them muzzled while off their property.
All other dogs in Newark earn the “vicious-dog” designation by committing a vicious act.
While the ordinance was only on its first reading last night, council members voted to waive the additional readings, and moved directly to vote.
The ordinance will take effect in 30 days, and it includes a caveat that pit bulls must be kept on leashes in city limits. Oddly, Newark does not have an overarching leash law, which one would think is a primary component to any animal control ordinance and a key measure to enhancing public safety.
Congratulations to those who worked to make positive change in Newark. While this may seem like is a small step to some, it is an extremely important step when looking at the big picture. With this battle under their belts, responsible dog owners in Newark will be able to push additional positive change forward in the future and, hopefully, ultimately repeal the city’s breed discriminatory law and replace it with an ordinance that judges ALL dogs by their individual behaviors and actions, not their breed or appearance.