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Legal Memorandum: Breed-specific Municipal Ordinances in OH

Issue: What law relates to breed-specific dog ownership ordinances in Ohio and elsewhere?

Area of Law: Municipal, County and Local Law
Keywords: Breed-specific municipal ordinances; Right to ban; dangerous dog
Jurisdiction: Minnesota, Ohio
Cited Cases: 871 N.E.2d 1152; 534 So. 2d 760; 210 S.W.3d 177
Cited Statutes: Minn. Stat. § 347.51, subd. 8; Cal. Food and Agric. Code § 31683; Cal. Hlth. & Safety Code § 122331
Date: 12/01/2010

Minnesota has, by statute, predetermined that breed-specific municipal ordinances are prohibited.  Under its dangerous dog statute, the Legislature provided, “A statutory or home rule charter city, or a county, may not adopt an ordinance regulating dangerous or potentially dangerous dogs based solely on the breed of the dog.”  Minn. Stat. § 347.51, subd. 8.  That provision was inserted into the statute in 1989, and no cases have been found to have addressed the issue.  California enforces similar provisions.  Cal. Food and Agric. Code § 31683; Cal. Hlth. & Safety Code § 122331.

The cases that address breed-specific pitbull bans generally uphold the municipal right to do so under its historical police power to regulate dogs, including:

  • Bess v. Bracken County Fiscal Ct., 210 S.W.3d 177 (Ky. Ct. App. 2006);
  • Florida v. Peters, 534 So. 2d 760 (Fla. Ct. App. 1989); and
  • American Canine Foundation v. City of Aurora, 618 F. Supp. 2d 1271 (D. Colo. 2009).

In 2007, the Supreme Court of Ohio determined that municipal pitbull bans are not unconstitutional, overruling a thorough court of appeals decision to the contrary.  Although there are considerable distinctions that could be drawn between pitbull bans and snake bans, the court’s reasoning provides guidance into a potential legal challenge of the latter.  See City of Toledo v. Tellings, 114 Ohio St. 3d 278, 871 N.E.2d 1152 (2007), rev’g 2006 Ohio […]

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