As I got out of my car at the strip mall, I was blasted by the thick, summer heat, now the fifth day in a row over ninety degrees. That dense, invisible heat wall weighed heavily on the day.
As I headed into the hardware store, I heard the persistent, muted barking of a small dog. I followed the sound to the other side of the parking lot. The pretty white terrier was alone in a car across the lot with the windows up, but the car was running. I walked over to see if he was okay. “Hi, pretty pupper! Are you feeling the heat too in there?” He seemed to be alert and lively.
I then headed for my errands in the hardware store. About forty-five minutes later, I had my errands completed. I exited the hardware store, again confronted by that oppressive heat wave. There was that plaintive, muffled sound again. “Oh no! That pupper is still barking!”
I couldn’t leave the area, knowing the dog was locked up in the car with that concentrated heat bearing down. So, I reentered the hardware store and asked if the clerk could put a message on the store loudspeaker about the white dog. No one responded to his announcement.
I then went next door into O’Malley’s bar to see if I could find the dog’s owner. The place was dark and cool with just a few people talking quietly together on stools along the bar. “Does anyone know who owns the white dog inside the blue Oldsmobile? He’s been barking for forty-five minutes outside.” No one answered me. “I was wondering if anyone in here owns the white dog outside in the car. I’m worried about the dog in this heat if the air conditioning fails.”
Without saying a word, one of the young men slid off his stool, walked past me outside to the Olds, and got inside of the car with the dog. The next thing the man did really stunned me. He turned off the motor, got out of the car, locked the car door, and strode back into the bar. Now, the dog for sure had no air conditioning. The windows were all up tight.
That man was going to show me what he thought of my concern.
“Please get that dog out of that hot car. He won’t live in the closed car with this heat wave.” The man continued talking to his girlfriend, ignoring me.
Just this week, on July 1, 2015, Tennessee’s new amendment to its Good Samaritan law went into effect. This measure allows people to break into cars if an animal inside is at risk of suffering or death. This law is an extension of Tennessee’s Good Samaritan law that allows people to break into cars when a child inside is endangered. The law spells out the steps that the Good Samaritan must take, such as trying to locate the owner and calling law enforcement, in order to avoid civil liability for damages to the vehicle.
Tennessee has joined seventeen other states which have statutes that ban leaving animals in confined spaces, in extreme weather, without proper ventilation. Each state has its own statutes on who (police, peace officers, firemen, volunteer firemen …) is allowed to enter a vehicle to save the animal.
Would you like to such an ordinance passed where you live? In addition to laws in seventeen states, there are numerous jurisdictions throughout the nation that have similar, local ordinances. It’s easier to pass a local ordinance than to pass a state bill. Contact Beth Sheehan on Facebook today to see how you can get a local initiative started where you live.
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”
(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.)
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”
(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.)
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
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
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
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.)
Our Ohio, outside dogs are suffering in current, plummeting temperatures. Our state is in a deep, winter freeze. Please advocate for better living conditions for the outside dogs in your community.
There are no state laws in place right now to humanely address outside animals, living in desperation and pain. Many concerned people across Ohio are calling their local dog wardens, their police, and their sheriffs without success. State law simply requires “adequate” food, water, and shelter. “Adequate” generally keeps many dogs outside, in distress, subject to frostbite, hypothermia, and a slow, frightening death.
There will be state bills proposed for anti-tethering and extreme temperatures in Ohio. These bills have not yet appeared. It takes a long time for a bill to become a law. Many of our most important, companion animal bills fail.
Please take action locally now, in the city where you live. Here’s a positive, doable plan for you to help outside dogs in your community.
First, organize a dedicated, small group of your friends to advocate for a new, animal ordinance where you live. Meet in a local coffee shop to share ideas and to review the Cleveland animal ordinance, a working model you can use.
(Find Cleveland’s ordinance here. Cruelty to animals, shelter, anti-tethering, weather are found at 603.09)
Two excellent, common sense points in the Cleveland ordinance are that the dog cannot be tied outside if no one is home, nor can he be outside during a weather advisory.
Second, select a local council member to work with you. This person is crucial to the success of your ordinance. He will be doing most of the work to advance the ordinance. If he is “wishy-washy” about animals, your ordinance will not be successful.
Call city hall today. Ask for an appointment to meet with the council member regarding improving your local, animal ordinance. Take Cleveland’s ordinance with you as a starting point.
Our companion animal laws need to be strengthened. Start today where you are.
If you feel you cannot organize and meet with your local city council, then share this blog with friends, who might be able to take that initiative for outside dogs.
Please join us today in making “backyard dogs” a footnote for Ohio, history books.