Toledo, Ohio has joined Topeka, Kansas, in replacing a breed-specific law with a new ordinance aiming to hold the owners of all dog breeds accountable.
Last Tuesday, the Toledo City Council approved a slate of new regulations that include provisions for higher fines and mandatory education for owners of nuisance and dangerous dogs. As in Topeka, the Council voted unanimously to replace a long-standing pit bull law following months of study by a volunteer advisory committee.
The regulations will replace a breed-specific law that a Toledo Municipal Court judge found unconstitutional in January. The judge ruled that the law, which restricted residents to owning only one "pit bull" and required that owners keep "pit bulls" leashed and muzzled when away from home, was vague and conflicted with home rule doctrine. The dogs at the center of the court challenge were Cane Corsos that the Lucas County Dog Warden identified as "pit bulls."
Toledo had become infamous nationwide due to controversial County Dog Warden Tom Skeldon, who resigned last year under mounting criticism of the shelters' high euthanasia rate. Local media reports that since Skeldon's departure, euthanasia rates are down, adoptions are up, and volunteers are now welcomed at the shelter.
The Toledo Blade's editorial staff wrote that the changes were long overdue.
Ohio remains the only state in the nation to designate all "Pit Bulls" as vicious, but a bill has passed in the House that would strike breed-specific language from state law.