After Dayton’s Klonda Richey was mauled to death by two mixed mastiff dogs in February, outraged citizens and city leaders demanded legislators strengthen laws related to dangerous and vicious dogs.
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Reporting animal bites
Animal bites must be reported to the county health department to prevent the possible spread of rabies, within 24 hours. Bites must be reported by health care professionals, veterinarians with knowledge of the bite, the victim, or the owner of the animal.
If a bite is reported, a health department official or a police officer will examine and quarantine the animal for 10 days. Quarantines are usually monitored by the pet owner, who must keep the animal “under supervision and under control,” said Bill Wharton, spokesman for Public Health – Dayton & Montgomery County.
The quarantine is lifted if the dog survives the 10-day period, and if the animal has been vaccinated. Animals with rabies will become very sick or die within 10 days, Wharton said.
The Ohio legislature in May 2012 created three definitions for problem dogs — nuisance, dangerous and vicious — and removed pit bulls from the definition of a vicious dog.
The law also eliminated a requirement that dangerous dogs be leashed or tethered on their owners’ property and replaced it with a more generic requirement that the dogs be adequately restrained on the owners’ property, such as in a locked fenced yard or in a pen with top.
People convicted of violent felonies or certain offenses regarding animals, weapons, drugs or corrupt activity are prohibited from owning or living with any unspayed dog older than 12 weeks or any dog that has been designated dangerous.
Reps. Roland Winburn, D-Harrison Twp., and Terry Blair, R-Washington Twp., in May introduced House Bill 541. The proposed legislation would:
- Require destruction of dogs that kill humans or companion animals;
- Require investigators to notify the dog’s owner that there has been a complaint, even if no citation is issued for a violation;
- Mandate that the dog owner respond within 48 hours of receiving notice of a complaint or be fined $25. If the owner fails to respond within seven days, a court may issue an arrest warrant for the dog owner; and
- Require the owner to keep a dog leashed or penned regardless of whether the dog is on the owner’s property.
The bill also would allow owners accused of violating the dog law to assert in their defense that the dog was teased, tormented or abused by a person or that the dog attacked while the person was trespassing or committing some other criminal act on the dog owner’s property.