A closer look at Ohio law regarding allegedly aggressive dogs

An off-duty Toledo officer shot and killed a dog he says charged him and his dog on July 4th.
Published: Jul. 6, 2021 at 10:37 PM EDT
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TOLEDO, Ohio (WTVG) - An off-duty Toledo police officer shot and killed a dog Sunday. The officer called TPD dispatch to report that the dog allegedly charged at him on his property.

According to police records, the officer said it was a medium-sized dog. The officer said he was on the side of his home with his own dog, when the other dog aggressively charged at them. He discharged his city-issued firearm at the dog, killing it.

So now to the question of the law in Ohio when it comes to shooting a dog that you believe is aggressive. We went to an expert for answers.

Stephen Heaven is the head of the Toledo Humane Society. “As an animal protection agency, we’d rather animals did not get injured or killed, but we realize under certain circumstances it is going to happen.” And when it does happen. “The law in Ohio is quite clear.”

Heaven says there are specific guidelines in the Ohio Revised Code when it comes to who or what a dog is threatening or attacking.

“If an animal is attacking or chasing livestock or threatening you in an aggressive manner, you are able to kill it,” Heaven said. “You are prohibited from killing it if it is chasing or attacking a domestic cat or domestic dog.”

Heaven says the good news is that random dog attacks are a relatively rare situation in our area.

“It is unusual to have a dog that is running loose actually come toward someone and attack them,” Heaven said.

When it does happen, Heaven says it is important to remember that these situations often come down to a split-second decision.

“It is easy for people to second guess what happened or what would have happened, but if you feel endangered at that moment, you are probably justified in doing it,” Heaven said.

There are some simple things you can do to try to prevent an attack in the first place.

“If there is somewhere you can back away quietly or go into somewhere safe, do that. Do not approach the animal or make any sudden movements or noises. Stand still and back away,” Heaven said.

Heaven adds that if you can, get inside a car or home and call the police or your local dog warden for help.

“Hopefully, if a situation like this comes up, you have time to take a deep breath, look at the situation, assess your options, and take appropriate action,” Heaven said.

Heaven emphasizes that any dog can bite, so don’t make judgments based on a certain breed of dog.

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