Nelson, an ambassador for the Best Friends Animal Society, made the remarks in an e-mail to a state Senate committee urging passage of House Bill 14, which would do away with the breed-specific language and make other changes to dog enforcement laws, The (Toledo) Blade reported Thursday.
"Ohio is the only state that discriminates against dogs who share a cluster of physical characteristics by classifying this group as 'vicious' without any regard to individual dog behavior," Nelson said in the e-mail.
"The current law infringes on responsible dog owners' rights to own any dog they choose, no matter what the dog's appearance," he wrote. "Dogs, like people, are individuals and should each be judged on his/her own merits."
House Bill 14 would revise definitions of "vicious" and "dangerous" dogs and create a new classification of "nuisance" dog, and none would include any breed-specific language.
Opposition to the bill has come from lawmakers from urban areas where "pit bulls" have become a dog of choice for dog-fighting and to guard drug houses.