Tag Archives: psychological evaluation

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.)

FAQ About Ohio, Companion Animal Bills

1. I don’t know who my state senator or state rep are. How can I find out? (Senators Brown and Portman are not your state senators.  They are federal senators.)

Here is the link to find your state legislators.


Type in your zip code and the four digit zip code extension (9 digits in all).  If you added all nine digits correctly, you will see only two names.

If you don’t know your four digit extension, click on “US ZIP Code Search Tool”, right above the two boxes. Follow the directions for putting in your mailing address. Your four digit zip code will appear with your address.


2. What are the current companion animal bills in the current, 131st Ohio General Assembly?

a) HB 45, Humane Officer Training    This is a companion bill to “Nitro’s Law”, which has already Ohio law.  It requires twenty hours of training for humane officers.  Additionally, it gets rid of the residency requirement.  That means that humane officers can work in more counties, not just the one in which they reside.

Humane officers are the first responders to an animal crime scene.  The assessments that they initially make and the evidence that they collect form the foundation upon which the case is based.



Cosponsors:  Representatives Cera, S. O’Brien, Stinziano, Phillips, Lepore-Hagan


c) HB 274, Felony for Animal Abuse    Animal cruelty is not a stand alone crime.  Animal cruelty is often the most visible symbol in the area that others too may be in danger of violence or extreme neglect.

HB 274 passed the House on December 11, 2013.  It was assigned to the Senate Agriculture Committee on December 12, 2013.

Please contact Senators Faber and Hite to move HB 274 forward in the Senate.

Sen. Keith Faber, president of Senate (614) 466-7584 faber@ohiosenate.gov

Sen Cliff Hite, Chair of the Senate Agriculture Committee  (614) 466-8150 hite@ohiosenate.gov

Sponsors: Representatives Patmon, Sears

Cosponsors: Representatives Barnes, Cera, Lundy, Celebrezze, Pillich, Winburn, Adams, R., Anielski, Antonio, Ashford, Baker, Beck, Blessing, Boyce, Brown, Buchy, Butler, Carney, Clyde, Dovilla, Fedor, Foley, Gerberry, Grossman, Hackett, Hagan, R., Henne, Hottinger, Milkovich, O’Brien, Patterson, Pelanda, Ramos, Rogers, Ruhl, Williams Speaker Batchelder


d)  HB 310, PTSD Merits Assistance Dog –   Sufferers of PTSD will merit a service dog that can accompany them into restaurants, stores, movie theaters, and all places they need to access in order to be more mobile in their lives.

HB 310 passed the House on January 15, 2014.  It was assigned to the Senate State Government Oversight and Reform Committee on January 16, 2014.

Please contact Senators Faber and Burke to move HB 310 forward in the Senate.

Sen. Keith Faber, president of Senate (614) 466-7584 faber@ohiosenate.gov

Sen Dave Burke, Chair of the Senate State Government Oversight and Reform Committee    (614) 466-8049 burke@ohiosenate.gov

Sponsor:  Representative Ruhl

Cosponsors:  Representatives Terhar, Adams, J., Grossman, Milkovich, Bishoff, Brown, Ramos, Schuring, Adams, R., Amstutz, Anielski, Antonio, Ashford, Baker, Barborak, Barnes, Beck, Buchy, Budish, Burkley, Butler, Carney, Celebrezze, Cera, Derickson, Dovilla, Fedor, Gerberry, Green, Hackett, Hagan, R., Hall, Heard, Huffman, Landis, Mallory, McClain, O’Brien, Patterson, Perales, Pillich, Retherford, Rogers, Romanchuk, Sears, Sheehy, Smith, Stinziano, Winburn Speaker Batchelder


e)  SB 177, Pet Protection Orders    This is a companion bill to HB 243.  This is a domestic violence and pet protection orders bill which will allow the family pet to leave a home of violence along with the women and children.

This was passed unanimously by the Senate on June 3, 2014.  It now moves to the House.

Please contact Speaker Batchelder to move SB 177 forward in the House.

Speaker William Batchelder  rep69@ohiohouse.gov Phone (614) 466-8140  

Sponsor: Senators Skindell and Hughes

Cosponsors: Senators Brown, Cafaro, Gentile, Kearney, Schiavoni, Sawyer, Smith, Tavares, Turner


f) SB 217, Veterinary Hospital Inspections     This bill requires unannounced, random inspections of veterinary hospitals in order to assure to standard of care of veterinary medicine and to safeguard public health.

SB 217 was assigned to the Senate Agriculture Committee on October 29, 2013.

Please contact Senators Faber and Hite to move HB 57 forward in the Senate.

Sen. Keith Faber, president of Senate (614) 466-7584 faber@ohiosenate.gov

Sen Cliff Hite, Chair of the Senate Agriculture Committee  (614) 466-8150 hite@ohiosenate.gov

Sponsor: Senator Kearney


g)  Sub HB 251, Flexible Sentencing for Judges   This bill undoes a current law and gives judges the discretion to send certain felons, like drug traffickers and animal abusers, to prison.  The current law requires judges to look for community sanctions instead of sentencing the felons to prison.

Sub HB 251 was assigned to the House Judiciary Committee on March 13, 2014.

Please contact Speaker Batchelder to move HB 251 to the House floor for a vote.

Sponsor: Representative Barborak

Cosponsors: Representatives Conditt, O’Brien, Pillich, Rogers, Butler, Celebrezze


h) HB 641, Animal Abuse Registry

Sponsor: Representative Celebrezze

Cosponsors: Representatives Barborak, Cera, Foley, Beck, Antonio, Fedor, O’Brien, Hagan, R.


i)  SB 215 – Good Samaritan – “Forcibly enter motor vehicle-rescue minor/animal-immunity”

Sponsors: Senators Hughes and LaRose

Cosponsors: Senators Bacon and Uecker 

This bill aims to grant a person immunity from civil liability for any damage resulting from the forcible entry of a motor vehicle for the purpose of removing a minor or an animal from the vehicle because the minor or the animal is in imminent danger of suffering harm.


Animal Cruelty, an Act of Violence

Ohio, let’s stand up to violence!  We have four, important bills, each dealing with companion animal, often paired with human, violence:  SB 177, Domestic Violence & Pet Protection Orders;  HB 57, Humane Officer Training;  HB 243, Psychological Evaluation of Juveniles Convicted of Animal Cruelty & Domestic Violence & Pet Protection Orders;  and HB 274, Felony for Animal Cruelty.

Why should these, four bills enacted into Ohio law?   First and foremost, animal cruelty is an act of violence.  State law must recognize the violence and aim to end it.   In animal abuse, the offender takes satisfaction in torturing a living being.   That animal experiences pain, suffers, and possibly dies.  Animal cruelty must not be dismissed as a minor crime.  It is often the most visible symbol in the community that violence is occurring and that others too may be at risk.

There is a powerful, nasty web of connections among interpersonal violence, some mental illness, and animal cruelty.  Animal cruelty is a warning sign, a “red flag”.  One must look more closely at what is happening in the surroundings of the abuser. Often, the individuals who are acting out violently with an animal have either experienced or witnessed violence themselves or they are using the animal abuse as a “practice”.  They begin with an easier, more controllable target, the animal.   Later, they may advance to violence against human beings.

Second, these bills, when enacted, will give Ohio courts the authority to interrupt the gritty cycle of violence and to order treatment of mental illness. The courts must have the ability to halt escalating, destructive violence before further suffering is meted out.

The danger to society of unchecked, animal cruelty is reflected in the many state and federal laws in existence today.  Twenty-nine states (plus Washington DC and Puerto Rico) have pet protection orders.  Nearly all 50 states have a felony provision for extreme, animal abuse.    About two dozen states have either mandatory or permissive cross-reporting of animal abuse and child abuse.  This means the dog warden must report his findings to the social worker.  The social worker is obliged to report to the humane officer.  Moreover, some states require veterinarians to report suspected animal cruelty as a safeguard against domestic violence.

A striking example of this acceleration from animal violence to human violence is the “Vampire Cult Leader,” Rod Ferrell.   Mr. Ferrell told people he was Vesago, a 500-year-old vampire.

Mr. Ferrell first called newsworthy attention to himself when he broke into a Kentucky, animal shelter.  There, he tortured, mutilated, and killed two, shelter puppies.    His acts at the animal shelter were the “red flag”, heralding his next, terrible event.

He subsequently advanced to human carnage.  On Thanksgiving Day in 1996, Mr. Ferrell entered the home of an elderly, Florida couple.   With a crow bar, he repeatedly bashed in their heads, battering them to death.   After his trial for their murders, Mr. Ferrell, then 17, was the youngest person serving time on death row.   Moreover, media accounts report that animals were routinely tortured and killed as part of his vampire cult.

Animal cruelty is not a petty crime.  It must not be ignored.  It is an integral part of the cycle of violence and the existence of mental illness that is living, hidden in the shadows of Ohio communities today.  It is the most visible sign that others too may also be in danger.

Ohio, contact your state legislators today.  Strongly encourage them to VOTE YES on HB 57, HB 243, HB 274, and SB 177.  Act today.

The bills can be read in their entirety here:

http://www.legislature.state.oh.us/bills.cfm?ID=130_HB_57  (HB 57)

http://www.legislature.state.oh.us/bills.cfm?ID=130_HB_243  (HB 243)

http://www.legislature.state.oh.us/bills.cfm?ID=130_HB_274  (HB 274)

http://www.legislature.state.oh.us/bills.cfm?ID=130_SB_177   (SB 177)