Policy banning pit bull adoptions sparks petition drive

How animal shelters handle pit bull adoptions varies around the region.

An online petition is seeking to change how unlicensed pit bulls are treated in Darke County.

For several years, Darke County’s animal shelter has had a policy that it does not adopt out unlicensed, stray pit bulls that come into the facility, said Darke County Dog Warden Duane Sanning.

In the last month, a petition appeared online at Change.org with now over 5,000 signatures asking the Darke County commissioners to change their policy. Those 5,000 signatures include people across the U.S. and overseas.

Sanning said licensed pit bulls brought into the facility are returned to their owner. But it’s the unlicensed pit bulls that will be held for the three days required by law, and often longer, Sanning said, before being euthanized.

Sanning said the stray pit bulls are not adopted out due to the breed’s aggressiveness and possible liability to the county. He said just last week, two separate pit bull attacks were reported to the county.

“I’ve seen the damage that those dogs have caused,” Sanning said. “How can I rightly justify adopting those types of dogs out? There’s no way to test those dogs for the damage or the probability or possibility that they could cause.”

Calls to surrounding counties reveal little to no restrictions on pit bull adoptions as found in Darke County.

Clark County and Warren County animal shelters have no restrictions on pit bulls, shelter officials said Monday. A dog’s adoptability is based on successful health and behavior tests.

The Animal Resource Center in Montgomery County has no restrictions in place for those wanting to adopt pit bulls, said Mick Sagester, shelter supervisor.

“We don’t discriminate on breed of dog; we treat every dog the same,” Sagester said.

All dogs must pass its veterinarian check and behavior assessment. He added that pit bulls are “high-energy” animals and those adopting the breed can work with a trainer at the shelter.

“Any dog with teeth can bite,” Sagester said.

In Greene County, Harold Brown, director of animal control, said the department does not discriminate based on dog breed.

Brown said prior to an Ohio law change in early 2014, pit bulls were automatically designated as dangerous dogs. But the law change made it so that dogs can only be designated as dangerous based on their actions and not the breed.

Brown said pit bulls have to pass a temperament test just like any dog.

“(Pit bulls) have a history, are strong and able to do more damage if they do bite … but we don’t treat them different than any other breed,” Brown said.

The city of Fairborn for a period of six years did restrict pit bulls and Staffordshire terriers, but that ended after Ohio’s law changed. There are no breed restrictions now in the city of Fairborn, said Michael Gebhart, community development director.

The Animal Friends Humane Society in Butler County said while it does adopt out pit bulls, it has a policy in place regarding pit bulls. Adopters of pit bulls must own their home and not be renters, due to some renters insurance policies not covering the pit bull breed, according to shelter staff.

The city of Fairfield in Butler County does not permit pit bulls in city limits.

Champaign County’s animal shelter was closed Monday.

Staff writer Steve Baker contributed to this report.

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