What will be lost to Ohio communities if our seven, companion animal bills “time out” and die in the Statehouse in December? While these bills intend to protect our beloved cats and dogs, they also aim to defend other vulnerable, human victims. The failure of each of the seven bills has a grim, human cost, as well. So, when the committee chairs do not call for hearings, or when the Senate leadership does not call our bills to the floor for a vote, they are also turning their backs on some of Ohio’s most vulnerable populations. These unprotected victims will continue to pay a severe, human cost if these bills fail.
With the failure of HB 274, “Goddard’s Law”, Felony for Animal Cruelty, widespread violence, hidden in the shadows of our towns and cities, will remain there unchecked. Animal cruelty has well-established connections to interpersonal violence and some mental illness. The animal cruelty is a warning, a ‘red flag’ that others in the area may also be in danger. Animal abuse is powerfully tied to child abuse, elder abuse, maltreatment of handicapped, and spousal abuse. Why should children, elders, handicapped, and spouses in Ohio have to endure unbridled violence?
The FBI just changed its Uniform Crime Reporting information. Animal cruelty now holds a separate category. That reflects an enormous shift in the understanding of the scope and importance of animal crime. If community violence is to be effectively combated, then the animal abuse should be proactively rooted out and prosecuted with the same vigor that crimes against people are.
With the failure of HB 57, Humane Officer Training, Ohio counties will continue to be understaffed and under served. Our humane agents, animal crime scene investigators, often work in dangerous conditions with little pay. While examining animal abuse, they may be confronted by a violent spouse, a mentally ill individual, gangs, drug traffickers, or organized blood sports. Moreover, state law requires the county to pay its humane officer a minimum of $25 each month.
Why should Ohio families be left, to fend for themselves, year after year, without sufficient, paid professionals to combat simmering crises and unexposed violence in their midst?
With the failure of HB 243, Psychological Evaluation of Youngsters Convicted of Animal Cruelty, some children that have seen or experienced violence themselves will remain unseen and unknown, defenseless against brutality in their own homes.
Additionally, these same youngsters may be using the animal cruelty as a “practice” act before they move on to human victims. Violence can pass in families from one generation to the next, unless there is outside intervention. Why should Ohio’s youngsters have to continue to witness violence and bear unjust punishments alone and in silence?
Most of the school shooters practiced on animals before they entered their schools, armed with guns, intent on widespread killing. Why aren’t adjudicated youngsters with known histories of torturing and killing animals, who have demonstrated a propensity to violence, not evaluated and treated?
The families, neighbors, and classmates of these same youngsters are living, unprotected, with a thinly veiled danger in the midst.
With the failure of HB 251, Flexible Sentencing for Judges, Ohio judges will continue to seek community sanctions, instead of prison time, for some F-4 and F-5 convicted offenders, as is required by current law. Why should Ohio families sustain convicted offenders, who know how to game the system to avoid incarceration, simply paying a fine, then quickly returning to their criminal vices within their neighborhoods?
With the failure of HB 310, PTSD Merits Service Animals, individuals suffering from PTSD, often our honored veterans of Middle East wars, will remain unrecognized, struggling for their own independence. Why can’t an Ohio PTSD sufferer be awarded a service animal to get his mobility and his life back?
With the failure of SB 177, Domestic Violence and Pet Protection Orders, women, children, and pets in homes of domestic violence will be denied a safe, early exit from the home. Twenty-nine other states (plus Washington DC and Puerto Rico) already have enacted this law. Why should a woman in Ohio have to choose between her own safety and the safety of her dog?
With the failure of SB 217, Veterinary Hospital Inspections, pet owners remain unprotected consumers. Right now in Ohio veterinarians are basically “on the honor system”. Neither the Board of Health nor the Ohio Veterinary Medical Licensing Board is making “surprise inspections” to check on the hygiene, to see if the equipment is working, to monitor the protocols, or to verify correct record-keeping. Why do Ohio pet owners not have the same quality control checks of their animal hospitals as other states offer to their pet owners?
With the failure of these seven bills, each aiming to protect cats and dogs, there is a obvious grave, human loss, as well. Ohio’s most vulnerable populations are left, unprotected by law, from violence. Ohio’s pet owners remain without consumer protections. Ohio’s families continue to endure savvy offenders continuing their vices within their neighborhoods.
Ohio, write to your state senator and to your state representative today in support of these important bills. There are just eighteen sessions left in this General Assembly. Without diligent, legislative attention, these bills will continue to linger and die, as has happened in General Assemblies before.
Each Ohio voter has one state senator and one state representative. You can locate your two, state legislators by typing in your zip code plus your four-digit extension in the bottom, left-hand corner of each linked, home page below.
FINAL NOTE: Only one of these bills, SB 177, passed. All the rest languished and died.