Tag Archives: child abuse

Proponent Testimony for HB 523, Cross-reporting of Child Abuse & Animal Cruelty

House Community and Family Advancement Committee

HB 523, Cross-reporting

Proponent Testimony by Beth Sheehan

March 14, 2018

Good afternoon, Chair Ginter, Vice Chair LaTourette, Ranking Minority Member Boyd and distinguished members of the House Community and Family Advancement Committee, I am Beth Sheehan from Hamilton County, representing an Ohio grassroots group, Paws and the Law, advocating for the swift, diligent passage of HB 523.

HB 523, Cross-reporting, offers relief to Ohio families, long suffering under the burden of unrestrained violence. It adds another layer of defense against the nasty web of abuse at work in the shadows of many, Ohio homes.

Many states (CA, CO, CT, DC, IL, LA, ME, MS, NB, OR, TN, VA, WV) already recognize the powerful connections between child abuse and animal cruelty with mandatory or voluntary cross-reporting legislation. Agencies protecting animals shall or may report their suspicions of child abuse to organizations protecting children, and vice versa.

Right now, Ohio cross-reporting laws are puny. They require humane society officials (but neither dog wardens nor animal control officers) to report suspected child abuse.

HB 523 puts more eyes on the alert for hidden violence with mandatory cross-reporting by veterinarians, veterinary technicians, dog wardens, deputy dog wardens, animal control officers, employees of children’s services, county departments of job and family services, licensed counselors, social workers, and marriage and family therapists.

With claims made in good faith the reporting individuals would be immune from civil and criminal liability.

Established research shows the powerful connections among interpersonal violence and animal abuse. In one study of homes with known physical abuse of children, animal abuse also occurred in 88% of those families. (DeViney, Dickert, & Lockwood, 1983)

71% of women with pets in homes of domestic violence reported their partners had threatened, harmed, or killed their companion animals. 32% of those mothers mothers reported that their children had also hurt or killed their pets. (Ascione, 1998)

Animal cruelty is a warning sign that others too may be at risk. Violent offenders in maximum security are significantly more likely than nonviolent offenders to have committed animal cruelty as children. (Merz-Perez, Heide, and Silverman, 2001)

A current, Ohio case clearly illustrates the nasty web of child abuse and animal cruelty. Middletown police and Butler County Children Services were called to check on a home. After three dead dogs and one decapitated dog’s head were found in the back yard, the mother was charged with three counts of felony animal cruelty.

A few days before her arrest, elementary school officials, concerned about the woman’s three children, notified the police.

Police report said the residence had no edible food and the house was in “very much disarray and unlivable”.

HB 523, Cross-reporting, offers early detection, and hopefully, prevention of rampant violence, unleashed against the most vulnerable among us, children and pets.

I strongly urge you to VOTE YES on HB 523, Cross-reporting of Child Abuse and Animal Cruelty, and to send this bill to the House floor for a vote.

Children pay a high price for witnessing or experiencing violence. Sometimes they pay their entire lives.

Get Your Peanuts, Popcorn, & Talking Points Right Here for Tuesday’s Triple Header!

Do you have ten minutes to write to important decision-makers in Columbus this week?

Three, critical, companion animal bills will have hearings in the Senate Agriculture Committee on Tuesday.  This is the committee in which our bills generally languish and die.

Furthermore, although there are now sixteen, companion animal bills in the current General Assembly, not one has been signed into law by Governor Kasich.

Additionally, just THREE of our stand-alone bills have been enacted in the last EIGHT YEARS.  

Below is a sample script, contact information, and links to the bills.  The script is lengthy so that anyone can understand the main points of each bill.  Feel free to shorten it.  It is always better if each person tweaks the narrative a bit so that each e-mail sounds different.

Thank you for working to see our beloved cats, precious dogs, and vulnerable people get stronger, legal protections! 

Dear Chair Hite, Vice Chair Hackett, Ranking Minority Member Gentile, and members of the Senate Agriculture Committee,

I strongly encourage you to VOTE YES on HB 187, First Responders Stabilize Injured Pets, to VOTE NO on HB 60, “Goddard’s Law”, and to have additional hearings on SB151, Dog Law Revision.

First, HB 187, First Responders Stabilize Injured Pets, is a bill that can save lives, not many bills can do that.  Emergency response teams have reported that individuals in a crisis, like a house fire or a car accident, are often panicked that their animals may be seriously hurt or lost.  The pet owners will not be calmed, and sometimes refuse treatment, until they are reassured that their dogs and cats are safe.

Additionally, this bill clarifies the type of treatment a prized, police dog may receive in an emergency. These highly trained animals have unique skills.  They protect not only their communities, but also the lives of the police officers that deploy with them. Local police departments cannot afford to accidentally lose these valuable dogs in a quickly deteriorating, dangerous situation because the first responders are not permitted by Ohio law to treat them. 

Second, I support “Goddard’s Law”, Felony for Animal Cruelty, as it was originally written, as HB 274 in the 130th General Assembly.  

I stand firmly opposed to the passage of HB 60, “Goddard’s Law”, because of the amendment, added just before the last, House vote.  The excellent legislative aim of HB 60 is severely damaged by this amendment. 

HB 60, Goddard’s Law, now appears to be going in two different directions at once.  HB 60, as originally written, aims to protect both companion animals and Ohio communities with a felony provision for animal cruelty.  Animal cruelty is well understood to be a sentinel act for interpersonal violence, including murder, rape, domestic violence, elder abuse, and child abuse.

The National Association of Prosecuting Attorneys states, “Under-enforcement of animal cruelty laws is directly correlated to a host of corrosive, societal ills.”

Yet, the recent amendment aims to diminish the successful prosecution of animal felony cases by not allowing humane societies to employ special prosecutors for felony animal cruelty.

This amendment takes away one of the current options of the humane society.  Each county humane society is in the best position to know whether the special prosecutor or the county prosecutor in its county can better handle the animal abuse cases. 

I believe that one of the unintended consequences of the passage of HB 60 with this amendment is that in order to retain experienced, animal law attorneys, who have a sharp understanding of the complexities of the successful prosecution of animal cruelty cases, the humane societies will choose to make more animal crimes a misdemeanor, instead of a felony. 

This will have a chilling effect on the future felony prosecution of animal cruelty cases in Ohio. This unintended effect alone for me is worth stopping the bill.

Third,  SB 151, Dog Law Revision, needs more committee work.  There are valuable points in this bill, including extending the amount of time violent felons cannot own dogs from 3 years to 5 years and keeping convicted, child abusers from owning a dog for five years.

However, SB 151 offers neither incentive to rehabilitate the irresponsible owner nor common sense, bite prevention.  Instead, the bill causes the dog to suffer penalties, sometimes with its life, because of its careless owner.  

Practical preventions of future bites or injuries might include requiring the dog to be on a short (4 ft)  leash or requiring the reckless owner to take attend behavior classes along with his dog.   Upon successful completion of the dog training course, the owner will present his certificate to the dog warden.

Additionally, other states provide for declassification of the dogs after, for instance, a three-year period without a biting incident.  So, the animal that was declared “dangerous”, that has completed three years without incident, may now be assigned a  “nuisance”.

HB 151 leaves dog owners in the unhappy position of having to defend any injury the dog is alleged to have caused.  Each time a report on the dog is filed, the dog warden is required to assign a label, “nuisance, dangerous, or vicious”, to the animal.  Many owners will give up.  The dogs will be surrendered. 

Even worse, euthanization is mandated for any dog that kills a companion animal.  This animal might be a hamster.

In summary, I urge you to VOTE YES on SB 187, First Responders Stabilize Injured Pets, to VOTE NO on HB 60, “Goddard’s Law”, and to continue to work in committee on SB 151, Dog Law Revision.

Sincerely,

(your name)

(your city, Ohio)

Read HB 187, First Responders Stabilize Pets in an Emergency, at the link below.

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

Read HB 60, “Goddard’s Law”, felony for animal cruelty, at the link below.

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

Read SB 151, Revision of Dog Law, at the link below. 

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

Ohio Senate Agriculture Committee

Sen Cliff Hite, (R) Chair – (614) 466-8150  hite@ohiosenate.gov

Sen Bob Hackett, (R)  Vice Chair – (614) 466-3780  hackett@ohiosenate.gov

Sen Lou Gentile, (D) Ranking Minority Member – (614) 466-6508  gentile@ohiosenate.gov

Sen Bill Beagle (R) – (614) 466-6247 beagle@ohiosenate.gov

Sen Michael Skindell (D) – (614) 466-5123 skindell@ohiosenate.gov

Sen Frank LaRose (R) – (614) 466-4823 larose@ohiosenate.gov

Sen Capri Cafaro (D) – (614) 466-7182 cafaro@ohiosenate.gov

Sen Randy Gardner  (R) – (614) 466-8060 gardner@ohiosenate.gov

Sen Joe Uecker, (R) – (614) 466-8082 uecker@ohiosenate.gov

Sen Bob Peterson, (R) – (614) 466-8156 peterson@ohiosenate.gov

Sen Dave Burke, (R) – (614) 466-8049 burke@ohiosenate.gov

Is your state rep a humane legislator?

Paws and the Law is proud to endorse

these humane legislators …

The single, most important act you can take to curb animal cruelty and neglect is to VOTE SMART!  Vote for HUMANE LEGISLATORS that have a proven, voting record of sponsoring / cosponsoring and voting for good, companion animal bills and voting against bad ones.

Here are the humane legislators, currently serving in the House of Representatives.  The newer representatives are not included since they do not have a significant voting record yet.  Some candidates on your November 8 ballot have no voting records because they have not been elected yet.

Please VOTE SMART for HUMANE LEGISLATORS on November 8.  All 99 House seats and half of the 33 Senate seats will be on the ballot. These are the Columbus decision makers who vote for (or against) our companion animal laws.

Find your state rep and your state senator by filling in BOTH boxes (zip code PLUS four-digit extension) at the link below.

https://www.legislature.ohio.gov/legisl…/find-my-legislators

Candidates running for office have both a web site and a Facebook page.  Why not call them or message them on their web page or on Facebook?  Ask them which companion animal bills they have voted for in the past.  Ask what their position is on an animal cruelty registry, animal fighting, and felony for animal cruelty.

Be sure to share what you have learned with your family and friends before November 8!

Because of our heavily gerrymandered districts in Ohio, the November winners for our Senate and House will be largely determined in March. Yet, that does not mean that we should not try!

Thank you for VOTING SMART!

 Marlene Anielski (R ) 

Nickie J. Antonio (D)

Michael D. Ashford (D) 

John E. Barnes (D) 

Heather Bishoff (D)

Louis Blessing (R) 

Kristin Boggs (D) 

Janine Boyd (D) 

Tim Brown (R )

 Jim Butler (R ) 

Nicholas J. Celebrezze (D) 

 Jack Cera (D) 

Kathleen Clyde (D) 

Margaret Conditt (R )  

Bob Cupp (R ) 

Anthony DeVitis (R ) 

Mike Duffey (R ) 

Tim Ginter (R ) 

Anne Gonzales (R ) 

Doug Green (R ) 

Christina M. Hagan (R ) 

Stephanie Howse (D)

Jim Hughes (R)

Terry A. Johnson (R )

Al Landis (R ) 

Michele Lepore-Hagan (D) 

John Patterson (D) 

Rick Perales (R ) …

Dan Ramos (D) 

Alicia Reece (D) 

Wes Retherford (R ) 

John M. Rogers (D) 

Mark Romanchuk (R ) 

Cliff Rosenberger (R )

Gary K. Scherer (R ) …

Kirk Schuring (R) 

Michael Sheehy (D)

Marilyn Slaby (R)  

Kent Smith (D) 

Ryan Smith (R )

Robert Cole Sprague (R )

Fred Strahorn (D) 

Ron Young (R ) 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

There is a grim, human cost to the failure of our bills

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.

http://www.ohiohouse.gov/ (Locate your state rep.)

http://www.ohiosenate.gov/senate/index (Locate your state senator.)

The failure of each companion animal bill has a grim, human cost, as well

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.  The other bills languished and died.

http://www.ohiohouse.gov/ (Locate your state rep.)

http://www.ohiosenate.gov/senate/index (Locate your state senator.)