Tag Archives: interpersonal violence

Will you be an advocate for outside dogs in your community?

Want to be a champion for chained dogs?

Is it legal in your community to abandon dogs to the backyard in both plummeting, winter temperatures and sweltering, summer heat? 

Why not take initiative where you live to see a tethering ordinance passed? 

Two, huge paws up!

Two, huge paws up to the many, proactive, Ohio communities that have already passed common sense legislation!  Tethering ordinances exist in more than thirty-six, Ohio jurisdictions and more than twenty states.

Most of the Ohio ordinances are based on the Cleveland ordinance, linked here. 

http://library.amlegal.com/nxt/gateway.dll/Ohio/cleveland_oh/cityofclevelandohiocodeofordinances?f=templates$fn=default.htm$3.0$vid=amlegal:cleveland_oh  

(Cleveland ordinance)

https://columbus.legistar.com/LegislationDetail.aspx?ID=3154969&GUID=A4FB5290-B19C-4FC4-8DC1-935C900C77A5&Options=ID|Text|&Search= 

(Columbus ordinance)

The Cincinnati, tethering ordinance was passed and went into effect on October 12, 2016. It is enforced by the Cincinnati Police Department. 

Common tethering ordinances do not allow the animal to be tied outside in extreme weather, between 10 PM – 6 AM, and when the owner is not home.

Often, these ordinances are quickly passed because dedicated city leaders understand the importance not only of protecting their animals, but also safeguarding their residents against nuisance and aggressive behavior, associated with endlessly chained animals. 

Please note that Ohio counties cannot pass a tethering ordinance.  Each jurisdiction within the county must pass the ordinance on its own.

      Promoting Public Safety

Tethering ordinances are good for both our animals and our communities.  They are common sense requirements  for the endlessly tethered dogs, who lead lives of frustration, loneliness, and boredom. Tying the animals without relief encourages the dogs to be defensive of their small territory.

The ordinances also promote safeguards for people, particularly children, who may wander into the dog’s area and encounter a dog poised to defend his small space.   CDC reports that a tethered dog is 3 times more likely to bite.  Children under 12 are 5 times more likely to be bitten by a dog.

Animal cruelty is powerfully connected to interpersonal violence and some, untreated, mental illness.  The animal abuse and extreme neglect can be a red flag that others in the area (children, elders, partners) are also in danger. 

Contributing to Quality of Life 

Tethered dogs are often the source of community nuisance.  They bark, howl, and whine continuously in their neighborhoods.  Needless tension and ongoing conflicts arise among neighbors over those annoying cries at all hours.

Yards and city lots with scruffy dogs tied to a stake, that often use old, worn out cars or rusted barrels as their shelter, are unsightly. They add to urban blight.

Encouraging Humane Treatment of Animals 

Dogs suffer physically and psychologically.  Endlessly tethering a dog out back, with no social interaction, with no relief from habitual pacing in a small area, with no protection from extreme weather – is unconscionable. 

Dogs on tethers can be injured or killed.  They get tangled around a tree, a pole, or a bush.  They can hang themselves on a fence. Their collars can become too tight or embedded in their necks. 

Our laws should reflect our community values.  Cincinnati, where I live, is a place where people care about their next-door neighbors – human and canine – and their fifty-two neighborhoods.  They want to live in healthy, vibrant, and top-notch communities, where families and their animals are safe, respected, and well-treated.

I strongly urge you to call your city council or township trustees TODAY to get a tethering ordinance passed where you live.

Need help?  PM me, Beth Sheehan, or J.D. Cooke on FB. 

Check out Jason’s FB page, Unchain Ohio, at the link.

https://www.facebook.com/unchainohio/?fref=nf

Let’s unchain outside dogs!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sincerely,

(your name)

(your city, Ohio)

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ohio Senate Agriculture Committee

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Is your state rep a humane legislator?

Paws and the Law is proud to endorse

these humane legislators …

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thank you for VOTING SMART!

 Marlene Anielski (R ) 

Nickie J. Antonio (D)

Michael D. Ashford (D) 

John E. Barnes (D) 

Heather Bishoff (D)

Louis Blessing (R) 

Kristin Boggs (D) 

Janine Boyd (D) 

Tim Brown (R )

 Jim Butler (R ) 

Nicholas J. Celebrezze (D) 

 Jack Cera (D) 

Kathleen Clyde (D) 

Margaret Conditt (R )  

Bob Cupp (R ) 

Anthony DeVitis (R ) 

Mike Duffey (R ) 

Tim Ginter (R ) 

Anne Gonzales (R ) 

Doug Green (R ) 

Christina M. Hagan (R ) 

Stephanie Howse (D)

Jim Hughes (R)

Terry A. Johnson (R )

Al Landis (R ) 

Michele Lepore-Hagan (D) 

John Patterson (D) 

Rick Perales (R ) …

Dan Ramos (D) 

Alicia Reece (D) 

Wes Retherford (R ) 

John M. Rogers (D) 

Mark Romanchuk (R ) 

Cliff Rosenberger (R )

Gary K. Scherer (R ) …

Kirk Schuring (R) 

Michael Sheehy (D)

Marilyn Slaby (R)  

Kent Smith (D) 

Ryan Smith (R )

Robert Cole Sprague (R )

Fred Strahorn (D) 

Ron Young (R ) 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Call your US rep today in support of HR 2293, the PACT Act (Prevent Animal Cruelty and Torture)!

A landmark bill, HR 2293, the PACT Act (Prevent Animal Cruelty and Torture) is the first ever, federal bill aimed at prosecuting intentional animal cruelty.  The PACT Act gives the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the U.S. Attorneys the authority to investigate and to prosecute animal cruelty cases.  While individual states across the nation have their own animal cruelty statutes, this federal bill grants an even wider reach into areas where individual states’ laws do not reach.

https://www.congress.gov/bill/114th-congress/house-bill/2293  (Read the bill here.)

Sponsor:  Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX)

Cosponsors: Reps. Trent Franks (AZ), Raul Grijalva (AZ), Martha McSally (AZ), Julia Brownley (CA), Ken Calvert (CA), Tony Cardenas (CA), Judy Chu (CA), Susan Davis (CA), Sam Farr (CA), Grace Napolitano (CA), Scott Peters (CA), Adam Schiff (CA), Eric Swalwell (CA), Mark Takano (CA), David G. Valadao (CA), Mike Coffman (CO), Rosa L. DeLauro (CT), Elizabeth H. Esty (CT), Theodore Deutch (FL), Lois Frankel (FL), Alcee L. Hastings (FL), Vern Buchanan (FL),Carlos Curbelo (FL),  Frederica S. Wilson (FL), Austin Scott (GA), Dold, Robert Dold (IL), Mike Quigly (IL), Peter J. Visclosky (IN), Michael E. Capuano (MA), Stephen Lynch (MA),  James McGovern (MA), Chris Van Hollen (MD), John Sarbanes (MD), Chellie Pingree (ME), Keith Ellison (MN), Rodney P. Frelinghuysen (NJ), Donald Norcross (NJ), Eliot L Engel (NY), John Katko (NY), Frank LoBiondo (NJ), Albio Sires (NJ), Joseph Heck (NV), Dina Titus (NV), Nita M. Lowey (NY), Jerrold  Nadler (NY), Louise McIntosh Slaughter (NY), David Price (NC), Joyce Beatty (OH), Steve Chabot (OH), Steve Stivers (OH), Michael Turner (OH), Earl Blumenauer (OR),  Suzanne Bonamici (OR), Mike Kelly (PA), Brendan F. Boyle (PA), Matt Cartwright (PA), Michael G. Fitzpatrick (PA), Tom Marino (PA), Patrick Meehan (PA), David N. Cicilline (RI), Steve Cohen (TN),  Beto O’Rourke (TX), Barbara Comstock (VA), Gerald E. Connolly (VA), Peter Welch (VT), Derek Kilmer (WA), Adam Smith (WA), Gwen Moore (WI), Mark Pocan (WI)

                                                         WHAT YOU CAN DO

First, locate your federal representative.

http://www.house.gov/representatives/find/   (Find your US representative here by typing in your zip code in the box.)

Second, if your federal representative is not listed as a cosponsor above, call him to ask him if he will cosponsor this bill.  You might say, “Good morning, Representative ________.  I am _ (your name)__ from __(your city)__, __(your state)__ .  I am one of your constituents.  I am calling today to ask you to cosponsor  HR 2293, the PACT Act.  This important federal bill allows the FBI and the U.S. Attorneys to investigate and to prosecute intentional, animal cruelty.

“This is particularly important in today’s culture of violence because of the powerful connections between interpersonal violence, animal cruelty, and some, mental illness. Where there is animal cruelty, we all are at risk.”

If your federal representative is listed, please call him thanking him for sponsoring HR 2693.

You might say, “Dear Representative _______.  I am _(your name)__ from __(your city)__, __(your state)_.  I am one of your constituents.  I am calling to thank you for cosponsoring HR 2293, the PACT Act.

“As you know, because of the powerful connections between interpersonal violence, animal cruelty, and some mental illness, where there is animal abuse, we are all at risk.”

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/

 

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

What will be lost to Ohio communities if our seven, companion animal bills “time out” and die in the Statehouse in December?  While these bills intend to protect our beloved cats and dogs, they also aim to defend other vulnerable, human victims.   The failure of each of the seven bills has a grim, human cost, as well.  So, when the committee chairs do not call for hearings, or when the Senate leadership does not call our bills to the floor for a vote,  they are also turning their backs on some of Ohio’s most vulnerable populations. These unprotected victims will continue to pay a severe, human cost if these bills fail.

With the failure of HB 274, “Goddard’s Law”, Felony for Animal Cruelty, widespread violence, hidden in the shadows of our towns and cities, will remain there unchecked. Animal cruelty has well-established connections to interpersonal violence and some mental illness. The animal cruelty is a warning, a ‘red flag’ that others in the area may also be in danger. Animal abuse is powerfully tied to child abuse, elder abuse, maltreatment of handicapped, and spousal abuse. Why should children, elders, handicapped, and spouses in Ohio have to endure unbridled violence?

The FBI just changed its Uniform Crime Reporting information. Animal cruelty now holds a separate category. That reflects an enormous shift in the understanding of the scope and importance of animal crime. If community violence is to be effectively combated, then the animal abuse should be proactively rooted out and prosecuted with the same vigor that crimes against people are.

With the failure of HB 57, Humane Officer Training, Ohio counties will continue to be understaffed and under served. Our humane agents, animal crime scene investigators, often work in dangerous conditions with little pay. While examining animal abuse, they may be confronted by a violent spouse, a mentally ill individual, gangs, drug traffickers, or organized blood sports. Moreover, state law requires the county to pay its humane officer a minimum of $25 each month.

Why should Ohio families be left, to fend for themselves, year after year, without sufficient, paid professionals to combat simmering crises and unexposed violence in their midst?

With the failure of HB 243, Psychological Evaluation of Youngsters Convicted of Animal Cruelty, some children that have seen or experienced violence themselves will remain unseen and unknown, defenseless against brutality in their own homes.

Additionally, these same youngsters may be using the animal cruelty as a “practice” act before they move on to human victims. Violence can pass in families from one generation to the next, unless there is outside intervention. Why should Ohio’s youngsters have to continue to witness violence and bear unjust punishments alone and in silence?

Most of the school shooters practiced on animals before they entered their schools, armed with guns, intent on widespread killing. Why aren’t adjudicated youngsters with known histories of torturing and killing animals, who have demonstrated a propensity to violence, not evaluated and treated?

The families, neighbors, and classmates of these same youngsters are living, unprotected, with a thinly veiled danger in the midst.

With the failure of HB 251, Flexible Sentencing for Judges, Ohio judges will continue to seek community sanctions, instead of prison time, for some F-4 and F-5 convicted offenders, as is required by current law.   Why should Ohio families sustain convicted offenders, who know how to game the system to avoid incarceration, simply paying a fine, then quickly returning to their criminal vices within their neighborhoods? 

With the failure of HB 310, PTSD Merits Service Animals, individuals suffering from PTSD, often our honored veterans of Middle East wars, will remain unrecognized, struggling for their own independence.  Why can’t an Ohio PTSD sufferer be awarded a service animal to get his mobility and his life back?  

With the failure of  SB 177, Domestic Violence and Pet Protection Orders,  women, children, and pets in homes of domestic violence will be denied a safe, early exit from the home.  Twenty-nine other states (plus Washington DC and Puerto Rico) already have enacted this law.  Why should a woman in Ohio have to choose between her own safety and the safety of her dog?

With the failure of SB 217, Veterinary Hospital Inspections, pet owners remain unprotected consumers.  Right now in Ohio veterinarians are basically “on the honor system”.   Neither the Board of Health nor the Ohio Veterinary Medical Licensing Board is making “surprise inspections” to check on the hygiene,  to see if the equipment is working, to monitor the protocols, or to verify correct record-keeping.  Why do Ohio pet owners not have the same quality control checks of their animal hospitals as other states offer to their pet owners?

With the failure of these seven bills, each aiming to protect cats and dogs, there is a obvious grave, human loss, as well.  Ohio’s most vulnerable populations are left, unprotected by law, from violence.  Ohio’s pet owners remain without consumer protections.  Ohio’s families continue to endure savvy offenders continuing their vices within their neighborhoods.  

Ohio, write to your state senator and to your state representative today in support of these important bills.  There are just eighteen sessions left in this General Assembly.  Without diligent, legislative attention, these bills will continue to linger and die, as has happened in General Assemblies before.

Each Ohio voter has one state senator and one state representative.  You can locate your two, state legislators by typing in your zip code plus your four-digit extension in the bottom, left-hand corner of each linked, home page below.

FINAL NOTE:  Only one of these bills, SB 177, passed.  All the rest languished and died.

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

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

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

What will be lost to Ohio communities if our seven, companion animal bills “time out” and die in the Statehouse in December?  While these bills intend to protect our beloved cats and dogs, they also aim to defend other vulnerable, human victims.   The failure of each of the seven bills has a grim, human cost, as well.  So, when the committee chairs do not call for hearings, or when the Senate leadership does not call our bills to the floor for a vote,  they are also turning their backs on some of Ohio’s most vulnerable populations. These unprotected victims will continue to pay a severe, human cost if these bills fail.

With the failure of HB 274, “Goddard’s Law”, Felony for Animal Cruelty, widespread violence, hidden in the shadows of our towns and cities, will remain there unchecked. Animal cruelty has well-established connections to interpersonal violence and some mental illness. The animal cruelty is a warning, a ‘red flag’ that others in the area may also be in danger. Animal abuse is powerfully tied to child abuse, elder abuse, maltreatment of handicapped, and spousal abuse. Why should children, elders, handicapped, and spouses in Ohio have to endure unbridled violence?

The FBI just changed its Uniform Crime Reporting information. Animal cruelty now holds a separate category. That reflects an enormous shift in the understanding of the scope and importance of animal crime. If community violence is to be effectively combated, then the animal abuse should be proactively rooted out and prosecuted with the same vigor that crimes against people are.

With the failure of HB 57, Humane Officer Training, Ohio counties will continue to be understaffed and under served. Our humane agents, animal crime scene investigators, often work in dangerous conditions with little pay. While examining animal abuse, they may be confronted by a violent spouse, a mentally ill individual, gangs, drug traffickers, or organized blood sports. Moreover, state law requires the county to pay its humane officer a minimum of $25 each month.

Why should Ohio families be left, to fend for themselves, year after year, without sufficient, paid professionals to combat simmering crises and unexposed violence in their midst?

With the failure of HB 243, Psychological Evaluation of Youngsters Convicted of Animal Cruelty, some children that have seen or experienced violence themselves will remain unseen and unknown, defenseless against brutality in their own homes.

Additionally, these same youngsters may be using the animal cruelty as a “practice” act before they move on to human victims. Violence can pass in families from one generation to the next, unless there is outside intervention. Why should Ohio’s youngsters have to continue to witness violence and bear unjust punishments alone and in silence?

Most of the school shooters practiced on animals before they entered their schools, armed with guns, intent on widespread killing. Why aren’t adjudicated youngsters with known histories of torturing and killing animals, who have demonstrated a propensity to violence, not evaluated and treated?

The families, neighbors, and classmates of these same youngsters are living, unprotected, with a thinly veiled danger in the midst.

With the failure of HB 251, Flexible Sentencing for Judges, Ohio judges will continue to seek community sanctions, instead of prison time, for some F-4 and F-5 convicted offenders, as is required by current law.   Why should Ohio families sustain convicted offenders, who know how to game the system to avoid incarceration, simply paying a fine, then quickly returning to their criminal vices within their neighborhoods? 

With the failure of HB 310, PTSD Merits Service Animals, individuals suffering from PTSD, often our honored veterans of Middle East wars, will remain unrecognized, struggling for their own independence.  Why can’t an Ohio PTSD sufferer be awarded a service animal to get his mobility and his life back?  

With the failure of  SB 177, Domestic Violence and Pet Protection Orders,  women, children, and pets in homes of domestic violence will be denied a safe, early exit from the home.  Twenty-nine other states (plus Washington DC and Puerto Rico) already have enacted this law.  Why should a woman in Ohio have to choose between her own safety and the safety of her dog?

With the failure of SB 217, Veterinary Hospital Inspections, pet owners remain unprotected consumers.  Right now in Ohio veterinarians are basically “on the honor system”.   Neither the Board of Health nor the Ohio Veterinary Medical Licensing Board is making “surprise inspections” to check on the hygiene,  to see if the equipment is working, to monitor the protocols, or to verify correct record-keeping.  Why do Ohio pet owners not have the same quality control checks of their animal hospitals as other states offer to their pet owners?

With the failure of these seven bills, each aiming to protect cats and dogs, there is a obvious grave, human loss, as well.  Ohio’s most vulnerable populations are left, unprotected by law, from violence.  Ohio’s pet owners remain without consumer protections.  Ohio’s families continue to endure savvy offenders continuing their vices within their neighborhoods.  

Ohio, write to your state senator and to your state representative today in support of these important bills.  There are just eighteen sessions left in this General Assembly.  Without diligent, legislative attention, these bills will continue to linger and die, as has happened in General Assemblies before.

Each Ohio voter has one state senator and one state representative.  You can locate your two, state legislators by typing in your zip code plus your four-digit extension in the bottom, left-hand corner of each linked, home page below.

FINAL NOTE: Only one of these bills, SB 177, passed.  The other bills languished and died.

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

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

HB 45, Humane Officer Training, “adds teeth” to combat violence!

Ohio, let’s turn back the violence in our towns and cities!  We’ll start by working to enact legislation “with sharp teeth” to protect our beloved, companion animals and to safeguard our wonderful neighborhoods.  Ohio voters, seeking safer communities, understand HB 45, Humane Officer Training, is a critical part of stemming the violence.

Animal cruelty and interpersonal violence are powerfully connected. Animal abuse is, first and foremost, an act of violence.  The perpetrator causes suffering, injury, and possible death to the animal.  The tormentor can also be acting out violence in ways that are less evident to the casual eye.   There may be other vulnerable victims (mentally handicapped, elderly, children, spouses) living nearby in danger and in fear.

HB 45 has two, main components.  First, it mandates the filing with the county recorder of twenty hours of successful training for humane officers.  The officers are schooled in the investigation and prosecution of cruelty and neglect to animals.   They are also educated about “domestic violence, violence-related incidents, protection orders, consent agreements, crisis intervention, missing children, child abuse, and neglect”.   So, while investigating the animal abuse, their trained eyes are scanning for additional at risk victims.

As first responders to an animal crime scene, the humane officers collect evidence and make assessments that form the foundation upon which a later animal cruelty trial is based. If the humane officers  are improperly trained and neither know what to look for nor know what to do during that initial phase of an animal abuse case, the case will be lost from the first day.  The animal abuser will go free.  The animal will be returned to the abuser.

Second, HB 45 eliminates the residency requirement.  Current law says that the humane officer can work only in the county in which he resides.  By getting rid of the residency requirement, more Ohio counties will be served by the same amount of animal cruelty investigators.

Additionally, there are many, Ohio counties today without even one humane officer.  So, when animal cruelty cases arise, there are no humane officers to respond.

Finally, each county pays the humane officer merely $25 each month.  Liz Raab is working on an amendment to HB 57 that would raise that salary. 

Let’s look at one, famous, Ohio animal cruelty case.  Liz Raab, and her husband, Tom Siesto, left their beloved three-year old, Rottweiler, Nitro, with food, toys, full medical coverage, and the anticipation of additional training for Nitro, in a Youngstown kennel, while they kept vigil at the hospital bed of Liz’s father.

When they came to pick up Nitro, they were stunned by the nightmarish scene and horrific news.  Nitro was in a freezer waiting for them.  The boarding kennel had  been a hell hole, with no food or water for the animals lodged there.  Those nineteen dogs had been left in a house of death.  Nitro and six other animals had died slow, painful deaths.   An additional twelve animals were in deplorable physical condition, severely underweight, dehydrated, and near starvation.  Liz and Tom’s much-loved family pet went from a healthy 105 pounds when they left him at the kennel to 50 pounds at his death weeks later.

This cruelty case of nineteen, emaciated and dead dogs, was bungled from its beginning.  When the humane officers entered the crime scene, they neither had a search warrant, nor were both humane officers already sworn into office. Therefore, the evidence that they collected that day could not be used in court.

Fifteen charges, out of nineteen possible charges, were dropped because the officers came without a search warrant.  Only four charges, relating to the four dogs that could be seen from a neighbor’s yard, remained.

Ohio’s puny animal laws revealed themselves at the kennel owner’s, criminal trial.  For severe, animal cruelty, the agonizing deaths and near deaths of nineteen family pets, the kennel owner was subject to a misdemeanor charge with four counts of animal cruelty and four months in jail. 

The owner then declared bankruptcy, which allowed him to avoid paying for the animals in the lawsuit.

Interpersonal violence and animal cruelty are tightly interwoven, living in the shadows of our neighborhoods.  If Ohio is to effectively combat violence, it must prosecute animal cruelty with the same fervor as it acts against interpersonal violence.  Step one is to have properly trained, humane officers who rigorously comply with the law. 

This significant bill, Humane Officer Training, has died in previous Ohio General Assemblies.  It appears headed down that same path today.  HB 45 needs our support. 

Join Ohio voters across the state in support of HB 45, Humane Officer Training, by calling or writing important, decision makers today.  Start by contacting Senator Keith Faber, president of the Ohio Senate. Then contact the members of the Senate Agriculture Committee.  Their contact information is provided below.

Each of your calls is noted by the legislators and helps to move HB 45, Humane Officer Training, forward.

Ohio, let’s keep the momentum going for HB 45!

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