Monthly Archives: May 2015

Bills in the 131st General Assembly

Get political for Ohio cats, dogs, and people at risk!

First, learn about current, Ohio companion animal bills and the legislators who represent you in the General Assembly.  Then, get involved in the legislative process by calling, writing, and visiting important, decision-makers in Columbus.

Your voice and your vote are critical!

Here are the main points of and links to current, Ohio, companion animal bills. Most are necessary, common sense bills that not only aim protect our beloved cats and dogs, but they also lead to protections of our state’s most vulnerable populations, the elderly, children, handicapped individuals, and partners.  Moreover, most bills add another prong to deter violence in our communities.

There are one hundred thirty-two state senators and state representatives.  They vote on our bills. Each Ohio voter can vote for only one state representative and one state senator (not all 132 legislators), depending on where that voter lives.

Make certain you know who your state rep and your state senator are.  You will want to be in contact with those two legislators in support of  (or, sometimes, in opposition to) proposed bills.

https://www.legislature.ohio.gov/  (Locate your state rep and your state senator here by filling in BOTH boxes.  In the first box, type your zip code.  In the second box, type your 4-digit extension.  If you do not know your 4-digit extension, there is a quick link right above the boxes for you to follow to learn your 4-digit extension.   Questions?  PM Beth Sheehan.)

BILLS in the 131st GENERAL ASSEMBLY

1.  HB 45 – Humane Officer Training          SUPPORT

Sponsor: Representative Ron Gerberry

Cosponsors: Representatives Jack Cera,  Michael Stinziano,  Debbie Phillips,  Sean O’Brien,  Cheryl Grossman, Michele Lepore-Hagan

Status – Local Government Committee

Summary – “to require an individual to file proof of successful completion of training with the county recorder prior to being appointed as a humane society agent and to require the revocation or suspension of an appointment under certain circumstances”

https://www.legislature.ohio.gov/legislation/legislation-summary?id=GA131-HB-45  (Read HB 45 here.)

(NOTE –  The humane officer has 20 hours of special training in how to approach and to analyze an animal crime scene. Additionally, HB 45 gets rid of the residency requirement.  Right now a humane officer can only work in the county in which he lives.  By getting rid of the residency requirement, the same amount of officers can spread out to additional counties to investigate animal cruelty.

Finally, many, Ohio counties, especially rural ones, have no humane officer.)

2.  HB 60 – “Goddard’s Law”, felony for animal cruelty          OPPOSE because of amendment added on June 9, 2015

(NOTE – Read linked blog for an explanation of possible, unintended consequences of amendment.   http://pawsandthelawblog.com/?p=373 )

Sponsors: Representatives Bill Patmon  and David Hall

Cosponsors: Rep. Nickie J. Antonio, Rep. Tim W. Brown, Rep. John Patterson, Rep. Ronald V. Gerberry, Rep. Marilyn Slaby, Rep. Sarah LaTourette, Rep. Cheryl L. Grossman, Rep. Janine R. Boyd, Rep. Jack Cera, Rep. John Barnes, Jr., Rep. David Leland, Rep. Michele Lepore-Hagan, Rep. Debbie Phillips, Rep. Michael Sheehy, Rep. Mark J. Romanchuk, Rep. Louis W. Blessing III, Rep. Margaret Ann Ruhl, Rep. Marlene Anielski, Rep. Mike Ashford, Rep. Nan A. Baker, Rep. Nicholas J. Celebrezze, Rep. Mike Dovilla, Rep. Denise Driehaus, Rep. Teresa Fedor, Rep. Bob D. Hackett, Rep. Stephen D. Hambley, Rep. Michael Henne, Rep. Stephanie D. Howse, Rep. Greta Johnson, Rep. Terry Johnson, Rep. Michael J. O’Brien, Rep. Sean O’Brien, Rep. Dorothy Pelanda, Rep. Dan Ramos, Rep. John M. Rogers, Rep. Kirk Schuring, Rep. Barbara R. Sears, Rep. Stephen Slesnick, Rep. Kent Smith, Rep. Martin J. Sweeney 

Status – HB 60 WITH THE NEW AMENDMENT passed the House.

Summary – “to revise provisions and penalties regarding treatment of companion animals, to revise the definition of “companion animal” in the Offenses Relating to Domestic Animals Law, and to provide a state collaborative effort to assist veterinarians in identifying clients who may use their animals to secure opioids for abuse”

https://www.legislature.ohio.gov/legislation/legislation-summary?id=GA131-HB-60 (Read HB 60 here.) 

(NOTE – HB 60, “Goddard’s Law”, felony for animal cruelty, is the next step for Ohio after “Nitro’s Law”. I’d like to explain felony for animal abuse in Ohio right now.  MOST animal abuse is a misdemeanor in Ohio.  There are two, specific times when animal abuse is a felony.  First, the SECOND TIME that an offender is convicted of animal cruelty, it is a felony.  The first time that offender is convicted it is a misdemeanor.    Second, if an animal “in the care of a kennel” is intentionally harmed by the manager, the owner, or the employees, it is a felony.  This is “Nitro’s Law”.

Additionally, Ohio judges are mandated to seek community sanctions (no jail) for certain nonviolent offenders because of prison overcrowding.  Animal abusers are considered by law to be nonviolent.

So, at sentencing, the animal abusers often end up with no jail time, a fine, AND they get their animal back.)

3.  HB 94 – Cruelty, Neglect, and Tethering          SUPPORT

Sponsor: Representative John Barnes, Jr.

Cosponsors: Representatives Mike Duffey,  Michele Lepore-Hagan,  Margaret Ruhl

Status – House Agriculture & Rural Development Committee, 1st hearing

Summary – “to prohibit a person from negligently allowing an animal to be tethered outdoors under specified circumstances”

(NOTE – HB 94 protects animals from being endlessly chained outside in extreme weather.  It also gives specification to the type of shelter the outside dogs need. So, for example,  it’s not “adequate shelter” to have a dog in a plastic igloo in plummeting temperatures.)

https://www.legislature.ohio.gov/legislation/legislation-summary?id=GA131-HB-94 (Read HB 94 here.)

 4.  HB 121 – Service Dog Awareness Week          SUPPORT

Sponsors:  Representatives Michael Stinziano  and Margaret Ann Ruhl

Cosponsors: Representatives Ron Amstutz, Nicholas Celebrezze, Michele Lepore-Hagan, Debbie Phillips, Jeffery Rezabek, Ronald V. Gerberry, Cheryl Grossman, Bob Hackett, Stephen Slesnick, Martin Sweeney, Sarah LaTourette, Nickie J. Antonio, Nan A. Baker, Andrew Brenner, Thomas E. Brinkman, Tim W. Brown, Jim Buchy, Hearcel F. Craig, Robert R. Cupp, Timothy  Derickson, Denise Driehaus, Teresa Fedor, Timothy E. Ginter, Christina Hagan, David Hall, Stephen Hambley, Brian Hill, Greta Johnson, Terry Johnson, Christie Bryant Kuhns, Stephanie Kunze, Al Landis, David Leland,  Michael O’Brien, Sean O’Brien, Rick Perales, Dan Ramos, John Rogers, Mark Romanchuk, Tim Schaffer, Barbara Sears, Michael Sheehy, Marilyn Slaby, Kent Smith, Robert Sprague, Emilia Strong Sykes, Ron Young

Summary – “to designate the last week of July as ‘Service Dog Awareness Week’”

Status – HB 121 passed out of House and Senate;  needs governor’s signature

https://www.legislature.ohio.gov/legislation/legislation-summary?id=GA131-HB-121 (Read HB 121 here.)  

(NOTE – HB 121 highlights the unique skills a service animal provides to his owner so that the owner is able to become more independent and mobile in his own life.  It also informs business owners of the rights the service animal and his owner have when they enter their places of business.)

5.  HB 187 – First Responders          SUPPORT

Sponsor: Representative Timothy Ginter

Cosponsors: Representatives Sarah LaTourette, Blessing III, Schaffer, Vitale, Michele Lepore-Hagan, Margaret Ruhl, Becker, Steve Hambley

Summary – “to authorize a first responder, emergency medical technician-basic, emergency medical technician-intermediate, emergency medical technician-paramedic, or volunteer firefighter to stabilize an injured animal in an emergency”

Status – House and Aging Committee

https://www.legislature.ohio.gov/legislation/legislation-summary?id=GA131-HB-187 (Read HB 187 here.)

(NOTE – HB 187 clearly defines what first responders may do on behalf of our pets in a crisis, such as a fire or a car accident.  They may provide oxygen to a stressed animal or a splint to his injured leg before the animal goes to a veterinarian.)

6.  HB 198 – Special Prosecutors         OPPOSED

(NOTE – Read linked, opponent testimony of Matt Ditchey, representative of eight, Ohio grassroots groups.  http://pawsandthelawblog.com/?p=367)

Sponsors :  Representatives Steve Hambley and Greta Johnson

Cosponsors:

Summary – “to abolish the humane society’s authority to employ an attorney to prosecute certain violations of law dealing with animal cruelty or acts involving mistreatment or nonsupport of children”

Status: Referred to House Judiciary committee

Click here to view the full text of the bill as introduced in the House – > https://www.legislature.ohio.gov/legislation/legislation-summary?id=GA131-HB-198

 7.  HB 215 – Animal Fighting          SUPPORT

Sponsors: Representatives Barbara Sears and Heather Bishoff

Cosponsors: Representatives Cheryl  Grossman,  Brian Hill,  Steven  Kraus, Sarah LaTourette,  David Leland,  Robert McColley,  Debbie Phillips,  Michael Sheehy, Michael Stinziano

Summary – “to prohibit and establish an increased penalty for knowingly engaging in activities associated with cockfighting, bearbaiting, or pitting an animal against another”

 Status – Passed out of House in February of 2016 

https://www.legislature.ohio.gov/legislation/legislation-summary?id=GA131-HB-215  (Read HB 215 here.)

8.  HB 447, “Killing Police Dogs in the Line of Duty”  –  SUPPORT

Sponsors: Representatives Schuring and Slesnick

Cosponsors:

Summary – “to increase penalties for intentionally killing police canines in the line of duty”

Status – State Government Committee

https://www.legislature.ohio.gov/legislation/legislation-summary?id=GA131-HB-447

(Read HB 447 here.)

 9.  SB 151, “The Klonda Richey Act”           INTERESTED

Sponsor:   Senator Bill Beagle

Cosponsor: Senator  Peggy Lehner

Summary – “to define  nuisance, dangerous, and vicious dogs, to revise enforcement of that Law, and to establish a notification process regarding complaints of certain violations of that Law”

Status – State and Local Government Committee

https://www.legislature.ohio.gov/legislation/legislation-summary?id=GA131-SB-151 (Read SB 151 here.)

 

Proponent testimony of Diane Less

                                             HOUSE BILL 187 – PROPONENT TESTIMONY OF

                                                           Diane Less, Representative

Angels for Animals, Animal Cruelty Task Force of Ohio, Joseph’s Legacy, Justice for  Herbie,Ohio Coalition of Dog Advocates, Nitro Foundation / Nitro’s Ohio Army, Ohio Voters for Companion Animals, Inc., and Paws and the Law

                                      May 27, 2015 – House Health and Aging Committee

Good morning, Chairman Gonzales and Members of the House Health and Aging Committee.  My name is Diane Less and I currently live in Green Township, Ohio (Mahoning County). I am here today speaking on behalf of the following eight grassroots animal welfare organizations:  Angels for Animals, Animal Cruelty Task Force of Ohio, Joseph’s Legacy, Justice for Herbie, Nitro Foundation/Nitro’s Ohio Army, Ohio Coalition of Dog Advocates, Ohio Voters for Companion Animals, Inc., and Paws and the Law, as a proponent for Ohio House Bill 187.

Representing over 67,000 constituents across 72 Ohio counties, our seven Ohio-citizen driven, community based organizations are the driving force behind legislative efforts to address issues impacting the health and safety of companion animals as defined under Ohio Revised Code 959.

Our supporters include a diverse section of voters and taxpayers from across the state, including but not limited to, a broad range of dog enthusiasts, veterinarians, breeders, animal care and welfare organizations, animal control representatives, appointed humane agents, judges, attorneys, and government employees who understand state and federal governance.

Given our coalition’s dedication to educate and support the law enforcement and judicial communities in the enforcement and administration of Ohio’s animal welfare laws, I want to begin my testimony by thanking Representative Ginter and Legislative Aide Alex Thomas for their leadership in sponsoring this important piece of legislation for Ohioans.

According to Animal Emergency Medical Training (AEMT), there is growing demand for theadministration of early and potentially life-saving interventions to injured companion and working animals in an emergency situation. This care is not meant to replace that provided by a licensed veterinarian; rather, it is meant to provide stabilization prior to and during transport to a licensed veterinarian.

Many of these EMTs and first responders have completed comprehensive training in small animal first aid, safety, veterinary triage, and basic veterinary cardiopulmonary life support. These highly trained professionals have been equipped with the knowledge, skills, tools, and hands-on experience necessary to recognize potential animal emergencies and provide initial treatment and stabilization.

As a coalition, we firmly believe the passage of HB 187 would provide clarification under Ohio Revised Code which would allow an EMT or first responder to safely provide early emergent and potentially life-saving intervention and stabilizing care to companion, service and K-9 unit animals in an emergency situation prior to that animal being further treated by a licensed veterinarian.  Most importantly, we believe the proposed language would successfully address two important considerations: (1) ensure EMTs and first responders do not administer drugs to injured companion and working animals without first consulting a veterinarian, and (2) ensure nothing changes about the process of a dispatcher handling a 911 call for incidents that do not require a first responder.

It is our hope this Committee will reflect on the opinions expressed by our seven groups and their supporters in today’s testimony prior to recommending Ohio House Bill 187 for review and passage by the House Health and Aging Committee.

As the representative for Angels for Animals, Animal Cruelty Task Force of Ohio, Joseph’s Legacy, Justice for Herbie, Nitro Foundation / Nitro’s Ohio Army, Ohio Coalition of Dog Advocates, Ohio Voters for Companion Animals, Inc., and Paws and the Law, I greatly appreciate your time and consideration on this important piece of legislation for Ohioans, and I welcome any questions you may have.

 

Proponent Testimony of Mike Smeck

                                                       HOUSE BILL 60

                 PROPONENT TESTIMONY OF Mike Smeck, Representative

Animal Cruelty Task Force of Ohio, Joseph’s Legacy, Justice for Herbie, Ohio Coalition of Dog Advocates, Nitro Foundation/Nitro’s Ohio Army, Ohio Voters for Companion Animals, Inc., Paws and the Law, Matt Ditchey, Esq. (Angels for Animals)  

                                                      May 26, 2015

                  House Agriculture and Rural Development Committee

Good morning Chairman Hill and Members of the House Agriculture and Rural Development Committee. My name is Mike Smeck and I currently reside with my family in Amherst, Ohio (Lorain county). I am here today speaking on behalf of the following seven grassroots animal welfare organizations: Animal Cruelty Task Force of Ohio, Joseph’s Legacy, Justice for Herbie, Nitro Foundation/Nitro’s Ohio Army, Ohio Coalition of Dog Advocates, Ohio Voters for Companion Animals, Inc., Paws and the Law and Matt Ditchey, Esq. (Angels for Animals) as a proponent for Ohio House Bill 60 as introduced in the 131st Ohio General Assembly.

Representing over 67,000 constituents across 72 Ohio counties, our seven Ohio-citizen driven, community based organizations are the driving force behind legislative efforts to address issues impacting the health and safety of companion animals as defined under Ohio Revised Code 959. Our supporters include a diverse section of voters and taxpayers from across the state, including but not limited to, a broad range of dog enthusiasts, veterinarians, breeders, animal care and welfare organizations, animal control representatives, appointed humane agents, judges, attorneys, and government employees who understand state and federal governance.

Given our coalition’s dedication to educate and support the law enforcement and judicial communities in the enforcement and administration of Ohio’s animal welfare laws, I want to begin my testimony by thanking Representatives Patmon and Hall for their leadership in sponsoring this important piece of legislation for Ohioans.

Companion animal cruelty is viewed as a serious issue by law enforcement and mental health professionals, who recognize the strong link between companion animal abuse and human violence. While Ohio’s humane ranking has improved over the past four years with the passage of House Bill 14 in the 129th Ohio General Assembly and Nitro’s Law as an amendment to House Bill 59 in the 130th Ohio General Assembly, when we look closely at our cruelty statute it remains rather weak in comparison to other states across the country.

We also feel strongly that as we continue to make headway on the opiate issue, we will see new trends — and conversation is suggesting this is already happening — of people who harm companion animals in order to obtain a prescription for an opiate with no intent to provide that level of care to the companion animal, but instead use the narcotic personally or sell it for profit.

Given these concerns, our coalition firmly believes the passage of HB 60 as introduced would represent the emergence of a statewide consensus that egregious abuse against a companion animal should be treated as a serious crime. Although there is much more work left to be done, to enact a felony provision for companion animal cruelty beyond Nitro’s Law would mark a significant milestone in an undeniable trend favoring increased penalties for those who commit profound, intentional acts of serious physical injury against all companion animals, to include dogs regardless of where they may be kept.

It is our hope this Committee will reflect on the opinions expressed by our seven groups and their supporters in today’s testimony prior to recommending Ohio House Bill 60 as introduced for review and passage by the House Agriculture and Rural Development Committee. As the representative for Animal Cruelty Task Force of Ohio, Joseph’s Legacy, Justice for Herbie, Nitro Foundation/Nitro’s Ohio Army, Ohio Coalition of Dog Advocates, Ohio Voters for Companion Animals, Inc., Paws and the Law and Matt Ditchey, Esq. (Angels for Animals), I greatly appreciate your time and consideration on this important piece of legislation for Ohioans, and I welcome any questions you may have.