Law Could Give Pit Bulls a Better Reputation

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LORAIN, Ohio  --

Are pit bulls vicious dogs or loving pets?

A proposal before Ohio lawmakers looks to take pit bulls off the vicious dogs list. House Bill 14 would classify a dog as being vicious, a menace, or a nuisance, not simply because of its breed, but by its actions.

Crystal Luli operates Ohio Pet Placement, a no-kill shelter in Lorain. She is also a pit bull owner and believes the breed is wrongly classified as being vicious.

"What this law will do, it will hold breeds accountable by incidents. If there are no bites, there are no problems. If there are no attacks, there are no problems," Luli said of the 75 at Ohio Pet Placement now. About 30 of them are rescued pit bulls. She said some have been waiting two years to get adopted.

"We get a lot of pit bull puppies. We'll have the family comes in. They're cuddling the pit bull puppy, and they hear that it is a pit bull, and they throw it down like it has the plague," said Luli.

Frank Rego, of Lorain, said he wants people to think of his pit bull "Rocky" by the way he acts. "Very Loveable. I have a daughter, three grandchildren, and he loves every one of them,"  Rego said.

But, dog owner Cynthia Elec is not convinced that pit bulls are loveable. She said she is afraid of them for herself and her daughter. "Pit bulls are vicious. I mean, they are not only trained to kill, they are used in dog fights. They run around. They are more dangerous than any other dog," Elec said.

Dennis Harp has two dogs and would consider getting a pit bull.  He said it is not about the dog, but about the owner. "Has to do with how they're raised. Has to do with their owners and how they are just brought up," Harp said.

Luli believes pit bulls have been mislabeled for too long, and that the bill will pass. Ohio House Bill 14 has gone through both the House and the Senate. Later this month, the House is expected to vote on some changes made by the Senate before it is sent to the Governor.

"I believe the pit bulls are going to be removed off the vicious dogs list. They are not going to be able to label these dogs," Luli said optimistically.

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