Tag Archives: cruelty

Thank you, Ohio, for your strong commitment to our dogs and cats!

I thank each of you, so much, for your dedication over the past two years to pass meaningful legislation to protect our cats, dogs, and people at risk!  Your sustained efforts in spite of having demanding jobs, loving families, and serious commitments that all need your attention.

SB 331, “Dog Sales in Pet Stores”, passed the Ohio House this afternoon with many recently added amendments, irrelevant to the original pet store bill, including bestiality, cock fighting, minimum wage, AT&T, and more.

Please send a RESPECTFUL tweet, expressing disappointment in the passage of SB 331.  I know that many of you are angry, hurt, and fed up.  This bill is not fair to our puppies, our families, and our workers.  Yet, your message will not be well received unless it is POLITE.

You may tweet these phrases, or you might want to tweet your personal message.   

 #VETOSB331 SB331 pounds Ohio workers, puppies, & “home rule”

 #VETOSB331 fast-tracked without proper vetting hurts OH workers, consumers, puppies, & ‘home rule’ “

 #VETOSB331 22 states pass Puppy Lemon Laws for puppies & consumers – Why does Ohio head in OPPOSITE direction? “

Would you like to create a Twitter account?

Yes, you can use your e-mail address (instead of your telephone number).

https://support.twitter.com/articles/100990

Twitter accounts (All legislators do not have Twitter accounts.)

@JohnKasich                      John Kasich, governor

@TeamJohnKasich            John Kasich, communication team

@OhioSenateGOP                  Ohio Senate GOP Caucus

@OhioSenateDems                Ohio Senate Dem Caucus

@OHRGOPCaucus                  Ohio House GOP Caucus

@OHHouseDems                    Ohio House Dem Caucus

@RepNanBaker                      Rep Nan Baker

@BeckerGOP                           Rep John Becker

@LBlessing329                         Rep Louis Blessing

@OhioRepSmith                     Rep Ryan Smith

@DeniseDriehaus                   Rep Denise Driehaus

@repamstutz                           Rep Ron Amstutz

@MarleneAnielski                 Rep Marlene Anielski

@JimBuchy                              Rep Jim Buchy

@Mike_Duffey                        Rep Mike Duffey

@RepGrossman                     Rep Cheryl Grossman

@RepDaveHall                       Rep David Hall

@RonMaag                              Rep Ron Maag

@VotePerales                         Rep Rick Perales

@StateRepRamos                 Rep Dan Ramos

@aliciareece                           Rep Alicia Reece

@RezabekOH43                     Rep Jeffery Rezabek

@RepGaryScherer                 Rep Gary Scherer

@EmiliaSykesOH                    Rep Emilia Sykes

@OhioRepThompson           Rep Andy Thompson

@CARosenberger                  Cliff Rosenberger, Speaker of the House

@DispatchAlerts                   Columbus Dispatch

                                             Add your own hometown newspaper.

https://www.legislature.ohio.gov/legislation/legislation-summary?id=GA131-SB-331

(Read SB 331 here)

Can you give 10 minutes a week to curb animal cruelty & neglect?

Newark, Ohio City Council voted to ban BDL!

When Newark passes an ordinance to protect its dogs and to safeguard its community, dogs and their families across the nation also gain.  Awareness grows.  Momentum increases.

Do you have 10 minutes each week to curb animal cruelty and neglect?   Please  join Paws and the Law’s humane community.  We work together across Ohio to advance state and local initiatives.   Your part is easy.  You can even work from the comfort of your home.  

Paws and the Law closely follows legislative initiatives for companion animals. When a critical point, like a hearing or a vote is about to happen, you will receive contact information for important decision makers and a sample script.  You, of course, can use your own narrative.   Can you give 10 – 15 minutes a week, working from home, to work against animal cruelty?

If so, PM Beth Sheehan with your e-mail address today.

A list of the current, companion animal bills in the Ohio General Assembly follows.  Most of our bills languish and die in the Ohio Senate.  The 131st General Assembly ends on December 31, 2016.  All bill not passed then, will have to be reintroduced in the next GA.

But if we all do whatever we can, where we are, together we will be an awesome force for good for our beloved cats and dogs.

BILLS in the 131st GENERAL ASSEMBLY

1.  HB 45 – Humane Officer Training          SUPPORT

Sponsor: 

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 – ENACTED

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

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 – ENACTED

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’”

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 May Give First Aid to Pets  – ENACTED

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”

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.  House Bill No. 278 – County Humane Societies – OPPOSE

Sponsor: Representative Steve Hambley 

Summary – “to require approval by the board of county commissioners, instead of the probate judge, of appointments of agents by county humane societies outside a municipal corporation, to specify that a county humane society is a political subdivision, to make its directors, agents, officers, and employees subject to the Ethics Law, and to increase the salaries paid to the agents.”

Status: Referred to Government Accountability and Oversight Committee 

https://www.legislature.ohio.gov/legis…/legislation-summary…

(Read HB 278 here.)

9.  House Bill No. 447 – Killing Police Animal 

Sponsors: Representatives Kirk Schuring and Stephen Slesnick 

Summary – to prohibit a person from intentionally killing a police dog or horse in the line of duty.

Status: Referred to State Government committee

https://www.legislature.ohio.gov/legis…/legislation-summary…

(Read HB 447 here.)

10.  House Bill 450 – Officer May Purchase His Police Animal 

Sponsors: Representatives Andy Thompson and Dave Hall 

Summary – to authorize a law enforcement officer to purchase a police dog or horse for one dollar when the officer retires in good standing from a law enforcement agency 

Status: Referred to State Government Committee

https://www.legislature.ohio.gov/legis…/legislation-summary…  

(Read HB 450 here.)

11.  HB 573 – Dogs Sold in Pet Stores –  OPPOSE

12.  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.)

13. Senate Bill No. 195 – Bestiality – INTERESTED

Sponsors: Senators Jim Hughes and Sen. Jay Hottinger 
Cosponsors: Senators Kenny Yuko, Frank LaRose, Sandra R. Williams

Summary – “to prohibit a person from engaging in sexual conduct with an animal and related acts, to provide for the seizure and impoundment of an animal that is the subject of a violation, and to authorize a sentencing court to require an offender to undergo psychological evaluation or counseling.”

Status: Referred to Criminal Justice committee

 https://www.legislature.ohio.gov/legis…/legislation-summary…

(Read SB 195 here.)

14.  SB 215 –  “Good Samaritan” –  ENACTED

Sponsors: Senators Jim Hughes and Frank LaRose

Cosponsors: Senators  Joe Uecker, Kevin Bacon, Bill Beagle, Dave Burke, Bill Coley, Randy Gardner, Cliff Hite, Jay Hottinger, Shannon Jones, Kris Jordan, Peggy Lehner, Gayle Mannning, Larry Obhof, Tom Patton, Tom Sawyer,  Joe Schiavoni, Charleta B. Tavares, Cecil Thomas, Kenny Yuko 

Summary – to allow individuals to rescue a pet or a child in danger in an unattended vehicle without liability

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

15. Senate Bill 271 – Purchase Police Animal – INTERESTED

Sponsor: Sen. Lou Gentile 

Summary – “to authorize a law enforcement officer to purchase a police dog or horse for fair market value when the officer retires in good standing from a law enforcement agency and certain conditions are met.”

Status: Referred to Agriculture Committee
 
 https://www.legislature.ohio.gov/legis…/legislation-summary…

17. Senate Bill 286 – Killing Police Animal – INTERESTED

Sponsor: Sen. Jim Hughes 

Summary – “to modify the penalty for assaulting a police dog or horse to require, 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.”

Status: Passed out of House committee 

https://www.legislature.ohio.gov/legisl…/legislation-status…

18.  SB 331 – Dogs Sold in Pet Stores –  OPPOSE

Status: Voted out of Senate

Please call Columbus to oppose HB 278, “County Humane Societies”

HB 278 Weakens the Effective Prosecution of Ohio Animal Cruelty

Opposition testimony is being heard in Columbus for HB 278, “Special Prosecutors”, on Tuesday, February 23, 2016.  I strongly encourage you to write to the leadership of the House Government Accountability and Oversight Committee in opposition to this bill.

You may use any part of my blog that you like.  It is always better if you vary it so that all of the letters do not sound the same.

Links to both the bill and its analysis follow the blog.

House Government Accountability and Oversight

Rep Tim W. Brown, chair   rep03@ohiohouse.gov   (614) 466-8104

Rep Louis W. Blessing, vice chair  rep29@ohiohouse.gov  (614) 466-9091

Rep Kathleen Clyde, ranking minority member rep75@ohiohouse.gov  (614) 466-2004

HB 278 Has Shut its Eyes to Rampant Violence

I oppose the passage of HB 278, “Special Prosecutors”, sponsored by Representative Stephen Hambley.  Animal cruelty, a gateway act to human violence, must be prosecuted with great vigor in order to effectively safeguard our communities.

The animal crime is often the most visible sign in the area that others too (children, elderly, handicapped, partners) may also be in danger of unmitigated violence or extreme neglect.

The county humane society is in the best position right now to properly choose between the special prosecutor and the county prosecutor.  HB 278 takes away that choice.

What happens when the already overworked, county prosecutor – with no training in animal law – gets an animal crime case with no potential for a large settlement? That case quickly moves to the bottom of his stack. It may never soon see the light of day.

In the meantime, the seized animals are on hold in the local humane society.   That humane society is providing the daily cost of care, veterinary care, behavior assessment, and rehabilitation training. Those costs become staggering with many, confiscated animals, detained over a long time.   That weighty, financial burden can potentially cause a humane society to fail.

Also, each day dogs and cats are impounded, adds a risk to the well-being of the animal victims. Additionally, the animals in custody are taking space, resources, and finances that cannot be used for local animals in need.

Moreover, HB 278 allows removal of humane agents by the Probate Court without cause and removes the broad reporting requirement for child abuse cases.

HB 278 does have worthy attributes.  It removes the residency requirement for humane agents.  Thus, Ohio humane agents would be able to work outside of the county in which they reside.  In addition, the county would raise the monthly pay for humane agents from $25 to $150.

Ohio needs animal law attorneys on the job for animal crimes.   These special prosecutors have the knowledge, training, and expertise to facilitate a quick resolution to animal crime cases.

The swift prosecution of animal crimes by experienced, animal law attorneys is a necessary prong in Ohio’s defense against sinister, violent forces hard at work, hidden in plain sight, in our communities.

 

https://www.legislature.ohio.gov/legislation/legislation-summary?id=GA131-HB-278

 Read the bill in its entirety at the link above.

https://www.legislature.ohio.gov/download?key=4090&format=pdf

Read the analysis of HB 278 at the link above.

 

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

Sponsor:

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.)

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

(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”. )

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

(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.)

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

(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.)

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

(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.)

https://www.legislature.ohio.gov/legislation/legislation-summary?id=GA131-HB-198

(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.)

https://www.legislature.ohio.gov/legislation/legislation-summary?id=GA131-HB-267

(Read HB 267 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

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.)

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

(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.)

https://www.legislature.ohio.gov/legislation/legislation-summary?id=GA131-SB-195

(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.)

https://www.legislature.ohio.gov/legislation/legislation-summary?id=GA131-SB-215

(Read SB 215 here.)

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

Introduced

Assigned

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.)

https://www.legislature.ohio.gov/legislation/legislation-summary?id=GA131-SB-271

(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.)

 

 

 

 

 

Ohio needs laws with teeth to combat animal cruelty and interpersonal violence

What is felony animal cruelty in Ohio?

There are two, specific times in Ohio law when animal abuse is a felony.  In the first example, the animal abuser must be convicted of animal cruelty TWICE before he faces a felony conviction.  The first time that offender is convicted it is only a misdemeanor.  This felony for second abuse conviction has been seldom used.

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,” named after the beautiful Rottweiler that died in a Youngstown kennel of starvation and neglect.

MOST animal abuse is a misdemeanor in Ohio. That means that the maximum sentence for intentional animal cruelty, causing extreme suffering, possibly death to an animal is six months in jail and one thousand dollars in fine.

What happens to convicted animal abusers at sentencing?

At sentencing, the convicted animal abuser often pays a fine, gets probation, AND he gets his animal returned to him.

Here is a bizarre example of Ohio, animal cruelty.  In 2013, Elizabeth Lewis, 19, of Hamilton, Ohio faced animal cruelty charges with the same dog, Bruiser, for the second time in less than a year. Ms. Lewis appeared both times for her animal cruelty charges in the courtroom of the same judge, Hamilton Municipal Court Judge Daniel Gattermeyer.

Bruiser, her pit bull, was found nearly starved to death each time.  The first time the judge found Ms. Lewis not guilty of animal cruelty and returned Bruiser to Ms. Lewis.

The second time, a neighbor saw the emaciated, weakened Bruiser fall down some steps. She then called the police to intervene.

Lewis was charged with cruelty to a companion animal and failure to license a dog. These are both misdemeanors.

In his second ruling, the judge admitted “the dog did suffer”.  He sentenced Lewis to of 180 days in the Butler County Jail but suspended 90 days.

“Lewis was also placed on two years of community control, ordered to get her GED, not to have pets, and to pay a $500 fine. The judge reminded her if she did not show up for jail, she would serve the entire 180 days.”

Why don’t Ohio judges send convicted animal abusers to prison?

Ohio prisons are dangerously overcrowded and have been for quite a while.  Since the passage of HB 86 in 2011, Ohio judges are mandated to seek community sanctions (no prison) for certain nonviolent F-4 and F-5 offenders.  Animal abusers are considered by law to be nonviolent.

So, even if the current HB 60, ‘Goddard’s Law’ is enacted, animal abusers still will not be sent to prison.  The judges will continue to follow their mandate to look for community sanctions instead of prison.

HB 60, ‘Goddard’s Law’, felony for animal cruelty, has been severely damaged

HB 60, ‘Goddard’s Law’, as introduced, recognizes the complexity of animal cruelty and offers justice for animals that suffer or die from intentional acts of abuse.

However, the excellent intent of the bill has been recently, severely damaged with an amendment.  The amendment was added on June 9, 2015, just two weeks before the full House vote.

The amendment (“A humane society … shall not employ an attorney … to prosecute a felony”) does not allow humane societies to employ animal law attorneys for FELONY animal cruelty.  The humane societies must use the county prosecutors for FELONY animal cruelty 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, the humane societies will choose to prosecute more FELONY animal crimes as misdemeanors.

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

Why the county prosecutor may not be as good as the animal law attorney

What happens when the already overworked, county prosecutor gets an animal crime case with no potential, large settlement to accompany it?  That case quickly moves to the bottom of his stack.  It may never soon see the light of day.

In the meantime, the seized animals are on hold in the local humane society.  That humane society is providing the daily cost of care, veterinary care, behavior assessment, and rehabilitation training.  Those costs become staggering with many, confiscated animals, detained over a long time.  That weighty, financial burden can potentially cause a humane society to fail.

Each day impounded in the humane society, adds a risk to the well-being of the animal victims.   Additionally, the animals in custody are taking space, resources, and finances that cannot be used for local animals in need.

Ohio needs animal law attorneys on the job for animal crimes.  These special prosecutors have the knowledge, training, and expertise to facilitate a quick resolution to animal crime cases.

Animal crime is the ‘red flag’ that others too may be in danger

An immediate responsibility of Ohio legislators is to safeguard our communities against the raging, epidemic violence.

The powerful connections among interpersonal violence, animal cruelty, and some, mental illness are well researched.  The recognition of that nasty web has been effecting rapid, legislative change across this nation.

The animal crime is often the most visible sign in the area that others too (children, elderly, handicapped, partners) may also be in danger of unmitigated violence or extreme neglect.

The swift prosecution of animal crimes by experienced, animal law attorneys is a useful prong in Ohio’s defense against sinister forces at work, hidden in plain sight, in our communities.

 

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

http://archives.legislature.state.oh.us/bills.cfm?ID=129_HB_86   (Read HB 86 here.)

http://www.journal-news.com/news/news/hamilton-woman-sentenced-in-animal-cruelty-case/nYNyY/

 

It’s raining cat & dog bills in Columbus this week – HB 60, HB 187, HB 198, & SB 151!

Four, important, companion animal bills are having hearings in Columbus on Tuesday and Wednesday this week.

Let’s get political for our cats and dogs!  Please call the committee members.  Let them know you want increased, legal protections for our beloved cats and dogs.

(Everything you need is right here – the bills, summaries of the bills, why the bills are important, committee leaders with contact information, sample scripts.)


1.  OHIO ANIMAL ACTION ALERT!

HB 60, ‘Goddard’s Law’, is having a hearing (all testimony) in Columbus on Tuesday, June 9!

Please call the members of the Ohio House Agriculture and Rural Development Committee in support of HB 60! (It’s always better if you can tweak your own script a bit to make it sound different.)

(HB 60 IS 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.)

* * IMPORTANT – There is a notation on the Ohio House web site next to HB 60 that indicates that there is a possible amendment to the bill. So, please support HB 60 “AS WRITTEN”. We have not seen the amendment. We do not know at this time if we support the unknown, possible amendment.

You might say, “Good afternoon, Chair Hill. This is _____ from ________, Ohio. I’m calling to urge you to use your leadership in the House Agriculture and Rural Development Committee to bring HB 60, ‘Goddard’s Law’, felony for animal cruelty, to a vote. Then please VOTE YES on HB 60 ‘AS WRITTEN’.

There is some confusion among advocates about whether an unknown amendment is going to be added to HB 60 this week.  I only support HB 60 ‘AS WRITTEN’ at this time.”

Rep Brian Hill, Chair

(614) 644-6014

rep97@ohiohouse.gov

Rep Tony Burkley, Vice Chair

(614) 644-5091

rep82@ohiohouse.gov

Rep John Patterson, Ranking Member

(614) 466-1405

rep99@ohiohouse.gov


2.  OHIO ANIMAL ACTION ALERT!

HB 187, First Responders May Stabilize Pets in Emergencies, is having a hearing in Columbus on Wednesday, June 10.

https://www.legislature.ohio.gov/legis…/legislation-summary… (Read HB 187 here for yourself.)

Please call the members of the House Health and Aging Committee in support of HB 187! (It’s always better if you can tweak your own script a bit to make it sound different.)

(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 to a stressed animal or a splint to his injured leg before the animal goes to a veterinarian.)

You might say, “Good morning Chair Gonzales. This is ______ from _______, Ohio. I am calling to urge you to use your leadership in the House Health and Aging Committee to bring HB 187, First Responders May Stabilize Pets in Emergencies, to a vote in your committee. Then, please VOTE YES on HB 187.

This is a common sense bill that clarifies the for first responders the actions they may take on behalf of saving the life of a family pet or a police canine.”

House Health and Aging Committee

Rep Anne Gonzales, Chair
(614) 466-4847 
rep19@ohiohouse.gov

Rep Stephen A. Huffman, Vice Chair
(614) 466-8114 
rep80@ohiohouse.gov

Rep Nickie J. Antonio, Ranking Member
(614) 466-5921 
rep13@ohiohouse.gov


3.  OHIO ANIMAL ACTION ALERT!

HB 198, Special Prosecutors Appointed by Humane Societies, is having a hearing (proponent testimony) in Columbus on Tuesday, June 9.

https://www.legislature.ohio.gov/legislation/legislation-summary?id=GA131-HB-198 (Read HB 198 here.)

Please call the members of the House Judiciary Committee.  (It’s always better if you can tweak your own script a bit to make it sound different.)

House Judiciary Committee

 Rep Jim Butler, Chair

(614) 644-6008 

rep41@ohiohouse.gov

Rep Nathan H. Manning, Vice Chair

(614) 644-5076 

rep55@ohiohouse.gov

Rep Michael Stinziano

(614) 466-1896 

rep18@ohiohouse.gov


4.  OHIO ACTION ALERT! 

SB 151, “The Klonda Richey Act”, is having a hearing (sponsor testimony) in Columbus on Tuesday, June 9 this week!

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

Please call the members of the Senate Agriculture Committee.  (It’s always better if you can tweak your own script a bit to make it sound different.)

Senate Agriculture Committee

Sen Cliff Hite, Chair

(614) 466-8150

hite@ohiosenate.gov

Sen Joe Uecker, Vice Chair

(614) 466-8082

uecker@ohiosenate.gov

Sen Lou Gentile

(614) 466-6508

gentile@ohiosenate.gov

 

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 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.

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.)