Do you have ten minutes to write to important decision-makers in Columbus this week?
Three, critical, companion animal bills will have hearings in the Senate Agriculture Committee on Tuesday. This is the committee in which our bills generally languish and die.
Furthermore, although there are now sixteen, companion animal bills in the current General Assembly, not one has been signed into law by Governor Kasich.
Additionally, just THREE of our stand-alone bills have been enacted in the last EIGHT YEARS.
Below is a sample script, contact information, and links to the bills. The script is lengthy so that anyone can understand the main points of each bill. Feel free to shorten it. It is always better if each person tweaks the narrative a bit so that each e-mail sounds different.
Thank you for working to see our beloved cats, precious dogs, and vulnerable people get stronger, legal protections!
Dear Chair Hite, Vice Chair Hackett, Ranking Minority Member Gentile, and members of the Senate Agriculture Committee,
I strongly encourage you to VOTE YES on HB 187, First Responders Stabilize Injured Pets, to VOTE NO on HB 60, “Goddard’s Law”, and to have additional hearings on SB151, Dog Law Revision.
First, HB 187, First Responders Stabilize Injured Pets, is a bill that can save lives, not many bills can do that. Emergency response teams have reported that individuals in a crisis, like a house fire or a car accident, are often panicked that their animals may be seriously hurt or lost. The pet owners will not be calmed, and sometimes refuse treatment, until they are reassured that their dogs and cats are safe.
Additionally, this bill clarifies the type of treatment a prized, police dog may receive in an emergency. These highly trained animals have unique skills. They protect not only their communities, but also the lives of the police officers that deploy with them. Local police departments cannot afford to accidentally lose these valuable dogs in a quickly deteriorating, dangerous situation because the first responders are not permitted by Ohio law to treat them.
Second, I support “Goddard’s Law”, Felony for Animal Cruelty, as it was originally written, as HB 274 in the 130th General Assembly.
I stand firmly opposed to the passage of HB 60, “Goddard’s Law”, because of the amendment, added just before the last, House vote. The excellent legislative aim of HB 60 is severely damaged by this amendment.
HB 60, Goddard’s Law, now appears to be going in two different directions at once. HB 60, as originally written, aims to protect both companion animals and Ohio communities with a felony provision for animal cruelty. Animal cruelty is well understood to be a sentinel act for interpersonal violence, including murder, rape, domestic violence, elder abuse, and child abuse.
The National Association of Prosecuting Attorneys states, “Under-enforcement of animal cruelty laws is directly correlated to a host of corrosive, societal ills.”
Yet, the recent amendment aims to diminish the successful prosecution of animal felony cases by not allowing humane societies to employ special prosecutors for felony animal cruelty.
This amendment takes away one of the current options of the humane society. Each county humane society is in the best position to know whether the special prosecutor or the county prosecutor in its county can better handle the animal abuse cases.
I believe that one of the unintended consequences of the passage of HB 60 with this amendment is that in order to retain experienced, animal law attorneys, who have a sharp understanding of the complexities of the successful prosecution of animal cruelty cases, the humane societies will choose to make more animal crimes a misdemeanor, instead of a felony.
This will have a chilling effect on the future felony prosecution of animal cruelty cases in Ohio. This unintended effect alone for me is worth stopping the bill.
Third, SB 151, Dog Law Revision, needs more committee work. There are valuable points in this bill, including extending the amount of time violent felons cannot own dogs from 3 years to 5 years and keeping convicted, child abusers from owning a dog for five years.
However, SB 151 offers neither incentive to rehabilitate the irresponsible owner nor common sense, bite prevention. Instead, the bill causes the dog to suffer penalties, sometimes with its life, because of its careless owner.
Practical preventions of future bites or injuries might include requiring the dog to be on a short (4 ft) leash or requiring the reckless owner to take attend behavior classes along with his dog. Upon successful completion of the dog training course, the owner will present his certificate to the dog warden.
Additionally, other states provide for declassification of the dogs after, for instance, a three-year period without a biting incident. So, the animal that was declared “dangerous”, that has completed three years without incident, may now be assigned a “nuisance”.
HB 151 leaves dog owners in the unhappy position of having to defend any injury the dog is alleged to have caused. Each time a report on the dog is filed, the dog warden is required to assign a label, “nuisance, dangerous, or vicious”, to the animal. Many owners will give up. The dogs will be surrendered.
Even worse, euthanization is mandated for any dog that kills a companion animal. This animal might be a hamster.
In summary, I urge you to VOTE YES on SB 187, First Responders Stabilize Injured Pets, to VOTE NO on HB 60, “Goddard’s Law”, and to continue to work in committee on SB 151, Dog Law Revision.
(your city, Ohio)
Read HB 187, First Responders Stabilize Pets in an Emergency, at the link below.