City of Toledo, Appellee v. Paul Tellings, Appellant

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Case Citation:  L-04-1224 Year Case Filed:  2006 Jurisdiction Level:  Ohio Defense Attorney:  Sol Zyndorf Drafting Attorney:  David Toska, Toledo Prosecuting Attorney; Daniel R. Pilrose, Jr., Assistant Prosecuting Attorney
Summary:

This Ohio case concerns a Toledo ordinance that limited the ownership of Pit Bull dogs to only one dog per household (respondent had three pit bulls). Essentially, the ordinance classifies a Pit Bull as a “vicious dog” under the vicious dog ordinance even if the dog has not engaged in aggressive or vicious behavior. The Court of Appeals for the Sixth Appellate District found that the ordinance as written was constitutionally vague. The Supreme Court overturned that decision in 2007, finding that the state and the city have a legitimate interest in protecting citizens against unsafe conditions caused by pit bulls.

Documents:  pbusohtoledo_tellings_decision.pdf

This Ohio case concerns a Toledo ordinance that limited the ownership of Pit Bull dogs to only one dog per household.   Respondent in this case was found on an unrelated house inspection to have three in his household.   Essentially, the ordinance classifies a Pit Bull as a “vicious dog” under the vicious dog ordinance even if the dog has not engaged in aggressive or vicious behavior.   The Court of Appeals for the Sixth Appellate District found that the ordinance as written was constitutionally vague.  

Recently, this decision was overturned by the Ohio Supreme Court. The Supreme Court first observed the deference given when reviewing municipal ordinances and the fact that dogs, while occupying a special place in the homes of many, are still personal property under Ohio law. In light of this, the Court found the state and the city have a legitimate interest in protecting citizens against unsafe conditions caused by pit bulls. The evidence presented in the trial court supports the conclusion that pit bulls pose a serious danger to the safety of citizens. The statutes and the city ordinance are rationally related to serve the legitimate interests of protecting Ohio and Toledo citizens.

Supreme Court of Ohio Decision - Toldeo v. Tellings,  871 N.E.2d 1152 (Ohio, 2007 ).

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