Tag Archives: civil liability

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.

Companion Animal Bills in the 131st General Assembly

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

                  Follow Paws and the Law to be an informed advocate.

                     Thank you for doing what you can, where you are, for our beloved cats and dogs.

Here are the main points of and links to current, Ohio, companion animal bills. Most are necessary bills that not only aim to protect our beloved cats and dogs, but they also will safeguard our state’s most vulnerable populations, elderly, children, handicapped, and partners.

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, based on where he lives.

Make certain you know who your state rep and state senator are. You will want to be in contact with those two legislators in support of or opposed to these bills.

                               Find your state representative and state senator

Your two most important state legislators are your own state rep and state senator. (Senators Brown and Portman are US congressional senators.)

https://www.legislature.ohio.gov/ (Locate your state rep and your state senator here by typing in your zip code PLUS four digit extension in the two boxes next to “Find my legislators”. Questions? PM Beth Sheehan)

                                          Bills in the 131st General Assembly

1. HB 45, Humane Officer Training – SUPPORT

Introduced – February 10, 2015

Assigned to Local Government Committee – February 11, 2015


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

(HB 45 IS IMPORTANT.  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 right now.)

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

2.  HB 60, ‘Goddard’s Law’ – enacted into Ohio law

 Sponsors: Representatives Bill Patmon and Dave Hall

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

(HB 60 IN ITS ORIGINAL FORM was important.   “Goddard’s Law”, felony for animal cruelty, is the next step for Ohio after “Nitro’s Law”. Let’s look at 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, the animal abusers often end up with no jail time, a fine, AND they get their animal back.

This bill, when it was in the 130th General Assembly, was very much stronger.   HB 60 WITH THE AMENDMENT seriously dilutes the bill and does not adequately protect our cats and dogs.)


(Read HB 60 here.)

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

Introduced – March 2, 2015

Assigned – March 4, 2015 to Agriculture and Rural Development

Sponsor: Representative  John Barnes Jr.

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

(HB 94 IS IMPORTANT.  It aims to curb animal cruelty, neglect, and endless tethering.  Owners are neither permitted to tether their animals outside when there are weather advisories nor when the owner is not home.

There is specification for appropriate shelter.  So, the plastic igloo at twenty degrees below zero and the deck twenty feet away from the dog in ninety-five degrees is not “adequate shelter”. )


(Read HB 94 here.)

4.  HB 121, Service Dog Awareness Week – Support

Introduced – March 12, 2015

Passed House – 93 – 0 – May 13, 2015; Passed Senate – 33 – 0

HB 121 is on its way to the governor’s desk.

Sponsors: Representatives Michael Stinziano and Margaret Ann Ruhl

Cosponsors: Representatives Ron Amstutz, Nicholas J. Celebrezze, Michele Lepore-Hagan, Debbie Phillips, Jeffery S. Rezabek, Cheryl L. Grossman, Bob D. Hackett, Stephen Slesnick, Martin J. Sweeney, Sarah LaTourette, Nickie J. Antonio, Nan A. Baker, Andrew Brenner, Thomas E. Brinkman, Jr., 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 D. Hambley, Brian Hill, Greta Johnson, Terry Johnson, Christie Bryant Kuhns, Stephanie Kunze, Al Landis, David Leland, Michael J. O’Brien, Sean O’Brien, Rick Perales, Dan Ramos, John M. Rogers, Mark J. Romanchuk, Tim Schaffer, Barbara R. Sears, Michael Sheehy, Marilyn Slaby, Kent Smith, Robert Sprague, Emilia Strong Sykes, Ron Young, Senators  Bill Beagle, Charleta B. Tavares, Edna Brown

(HB 121 IS IMPORTANT because it educates the public about the unique skills that a service animal has that allow his owner to be more independent in his life.  It also informs business owners of the rights the service animal owner and service animal have while in the store, movie, or restaurant.)


(Read HB 121 here.)

5.  HB 187, First Responders May Stabilize Pets in Emergencies – goes into effect September 12, 2016

Sponsor: Representative Timothy Ginter

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

(HB 187 IS IMPORTANT – It clearly defines what first responders may do on behalf of our pets if they are in a crisis, like a fire or a car accident. They can provide oxygen with a ventilator or mouth to snout to a stressed animal or a splint to his injured leg before the animal goes to a veterinarian.)


(Read HB 187 here.)

6.  HB 198, Special Prosecutors Appointed by Humane Societies – OPPOSE

Introduced – May 11, 2015

Assigned to Judiciary Committee – May 19, 2015

Sponsor: Representatives Stephen Hambley and Greta Johnson

Cosponsors: Representatives Heather Bishoff, Terry Boose, Bob D. Hackett, Brian Hill, Doug Green, Michael J. O’Brien

(IT IS IMPORTANT TO OPPOSE HB 198 because it limits the choices a humane society has in prosecuting animal cruelty.  Additionally, it may have encourage humane societies to prosecute animal abuse crimes as misdemeanors instead of felonies.)


(Read HB 198 here.)

7.  HB 267,  “Trooper’s Bill” – SUPPORT

Sponsor: Representative Margaret Ruhl

Cosponsors: Representatives Andrew Brenner, Teresa Fedor, Cheryl Grossman, Sarah LaTourette, Michele Lepore-Hagan, Andy Thompson

(This bill aims to establish a deer sanctuary license to allow a licensee to raise deer, to establish requirements governing such a license, to require the Chief of the Division of Wildlife to issue a wild animal permit to allow a permit holder to rehabilitate deer, to establish procedures that certain law enforcement officers must follow when responding to accidents involving injured or deceased deer, and to require training for those officers regarding humane procedures for euthanizing injured deer.)


(Read HB 267 here.)

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

Sponsors: Representatives Schuring and Slesnick


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

Status – State Government Committee


(Read HB 447 here.)

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

SPONSOR: Senator Bill Beagle

Cosponsor: Senator Peggy Lehner

Introduced – April 27, 2015

Assigned to Agriculture Committee – April 29, 2015; had hearing in the Senate Agriculture Committee on April 26, 2016

(This bill aims to give clarity to “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.)


(Read SB 151 here.)

10.  SB 195 – Prohibiting Sexual Contact with Animals – SUPPORT

Introduced – July 16, 2015

Assigned to Criminal Justice Committee – September 17, 2015

Sponsors: Senators Jim Hughes and Jay Hottinger

(SB 195 IS IMPORTANT because having sexual contact with an animal is legal in Ohio.  This bill makes it a misdemeanor to have sexual contact with an animal.  It allows for the seizure and impoundment of the animal that is violated.  Also, it authorizes the court to require an offender to undergo psychological evaluation or counseling.)


(Read SB 195 here.)

11.   SB 215 – Good Samaritan – goes into effect on August 31, 2016

 Sponsors: Senators Jim Hughes and Frank LaRose

Cosponsors: Senators Kevin Bacon and Joe Uecker

(SB 215 is an important bill because it allows individuals to rescue pets and children in danger in unattended vehicles with immunity from civil liability.)


(Read SB 215 here.)

12.   SB 271 – Police Buys Dog or Horse – SUPPORT



Sponsor: Senator Lou Gentile

Cosponsors: Senators Kenny Yuko, Shannon Jones, Joe Schiavoni, Capri S. Cafaro, Michael Skindell, Charleta B. Tavares, Cecil Thomas, Frank LaRose

(SB 271 is an important bill that aims to allow a police officer to buy a his police dog or horse at fair market value at retirement.)


(Read SB 271 here.)

13. SB 286 – Killing a Police Dog or Horse – SUPPORT

Introduced – February 29, 2016

Assigned to Senate Criminal Justice Committee – April 12, 2016

Sponsor: Senator Jim Hughes

(SB 286 is important because it increases penalty for assaulting a police dog or horse.  It requires, if the dog or horse is killed, a mandatory prison term and a mandatory fine to be paid to the law enforcement agency served by the dog or horse.)