Best Friends’ Attorney Testifies in Support of HB 14

Ledy VanKavage, nationally respected expert on pit bulls and reckless owner/dangerous dog legislation, will testify in support of HB 14, which would repeal Ohio’s provision that labels any dog commonly known as a “pit bull” as vicious. She will speak to the Criminal Justice Committee Wednesday at 9 a.m. in Statehouse Room 114. She is available for interviews by phone from 12 noon onward on Wednesday.

Twelve states actually prohibit breed discrimination, while Ohio is the only state that codifies a type of dog as “vicious.” The states that ban canine profiling enacted their provisions after Ohio passed its breed discriminatory law, based on research that showed that canine profiling is not only expensive but ineffective in protecting the public.

Economist John Dunham examined the fiscal impact of breed discriminatory laws. He estimated that Ohio’s breed discriminatory law costs Ohio taxpayers $17,751,210 annually to enforce. The Platte Institute for Economic Research also determined that breed specific laws were a waste of taxpayer dollars.

Under current law, dog wardens are required to target dogs because of their appearance--not their behavior--and they’re given the authority to deem any dog a “pit bull.” This means any short-haired muscular mutt could be seized and killed simply because of his or her appearance, without regard for whether the individual dog is, in fact, vicious. A recent study by Dr. Victoria Voith found that animal shelter workers were correct in identifying the heritage of a dog less than 25% of the time when compared with DNA testing.

This arbitrary designation of “vicious” on all individual dogs of one type essentially infringes on responsible dog owners’ property rights. “This is America,” VanKavage said, “Responsible dog owners should be allowed to own whatever breed of dog they choose, no matter what its appearance. Reckless owners should be prevented from owning any dog.”

While in Columbus Wednesday, VanKavage is also available for interviews about any local dangerous dog issues or breed discriminatory legislation, as these are her areas of expertise. She has been helping legislators and city council-people craft good comprehensive dangerous dog laws since 1987. She coauthored a chapter in the American Bar Association’s “A Lawyer’s Guide To Dangerous Dog Issues” on effective reckless owner/dangerous dog laws and has written numerous articles on the subject including articles for the ABA’s Government Section and the International City/County Manager’s Association.

WHO: Ledy VanKavage, Senior Legislative Attorney, Best Friends Animal Society

WHAT: Available for interviews with radio stations, journalists

WHEN: After 9 a.m. Wednesday, February 9, 2011

WHERE: By telephone or at after testimony in Statehouse Room 114

TO ARRANGE INTERVIEW CONTACT: Ledy VanKavage, Best Friends Animal Society, ledyv@bestfriends.org, 618-550-9469 

About Best Friends Animal Society®

Best Friends Animal Society is a nonprofit organization building no-kill programs and partnerships that will bring about a day when there are No More Homeless Pets®. The society's leading initiatives in animal care and community programs are coordinated from its Kanab, Utah, headquarters, the country's largest no-kill sanctuary. This work is made possible by the personal and financial support of a grassroots network of supporters and community partners across the nation.

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