What Do These Designations Mean?
If complaints have been made about your dog’s behavior, a law enforcement officer may decide to designate it as a Nuisance Dog, Dangerous Dog, or Vicious Dog pursuant to state code.
This will subject you and your dog to certain legal restrictions, requirements, and liabilities. Failure to comply with any rules relating to your dog’s designation can be charged as a criminal offense.
Ohio’s “Nuisance Dog”:
The State of Ohio can designate a dog as a Nuisance if, while not on the owner’s property, it has chased, attempted to bite, or menacingly approached a person without provocation.
Ohio’s “Dangerous Dog”:
The State of Ohio can designate a dog as Dangerous if it has either (1) injured a person, (2) killed another dog, or (3) if the owner has failed on multiple occasions to sufficiently restrain or control the dog.
Ohio’s “Vicious Dog”:
The State of Ohio can designate a dog as Vicious if it has killed or seriously injured a person, as long as the victim was not trespassing or committing a crime on the dog-owner’s property at the time.
Legal Restrictions for Dangerous and Vicious Dogs
Dangerous Dogs and Vicious Dogs are required to be in a locked cage, pen, or other enclosure at all times while at home. While off the premises of the owner, the dog must be on a short chain link leash and additionally either:
(1) be confined in an locked enclosure with a top or locked, fenced yard;
(2) have the leash controlled by a person who is of suitable age and discretion;
(3) have the leash securely attached to the ground or a stationary object or fixture so that the dog is adequately restrained and a person stationed in close enough proximity to that dog so as to prevent it from causing injury to any person; or
(4) wear a muzzle.
• If sold or transferred to a new owner, a full description of the dog, account of all past aggressive acts, and notice of its Dangerous/Vicious designation must be given to the new owner, as well as to the Dog Warden and Board of Health in the new owner’s district of residence.
• Dangerous and Vicious Dogs must be microchipped and spayed/neutered at the owner’s expense.
• Owners of Dangerous or Vicious Dogs are sometimes required to purchase special liability insurance.
• Dangerous and Vicious Dogs cannot legally be owned by any person who has been convicted of a felony.
• The dog’s owner must get a special Dangerous/Vicious Dog registration certificate and tags each year, which the dog must wear at all times.
• The local Dog Warden must be notified immediately any time a Dangerous or Vicious Dog is loose.
• The local Dog Warden must be notified immediately if your Dangerous or Vicious Dog dies or is transferred to a new owner.
Other restrictions may be applied at the court’s discretion, and may vary by county or city.
Legal Restrictions for Nuisance Dogs
Nuisance Dogs must be properly confined and controlled at all times, which may include by using leash, tether, adequate fence, supervision, or secure enclosure. Other restrictions may be applied at the court’s discretion, and may vary by county or city.
Your Right to a Designation Hearing
Ohio law grants you the right to a fair hearing if you disagree with the designation, as long as you notify the court within 10 days of receiving notice.
If you decide to exercise your right to a hearing, our attorneys can help protect you and your dog from the costs and restrictions of an unjust designation.