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 firstname.lastname@example.org (614) 466-8104
Rep Louis W. Blessing, vice chair email@example.com (614) 466-9091
Rep Kathleen Clyde, ranking minority member firstname.lastname@example.org (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.
Read the bill in its entirety at the link above.
Read the analysis of HB 278 at the link above.
Ohio dog and cat lovers, take a close look at the difference in how Michigan, Ohio, Indiana, Kentucky, Pennsylvania, and Massachusetts protect our animals – and also human, public health and safety – in the way disease is reported and tracked in each state.
The Michigan State Veterinarian, Dr. James Averill, recently added both types of canine influenza to the 2015 Reportable Disease list. This means all Michigan veterinarians and diagnostic labs MUST notify the state department if they suspect or have a positive test of canine flu. Dr. Averill is concerned about the spread of the canine flu in Michigan, even though there are only three cases reported so far. Because “canine influenza poses a serious health risk to dogs, especially in animal shelter settings. (Dr. Averill is) particularly concerned about shelter dogs.”
Ohio, on the other hand, does not have canine flu on its Reportable Disease List. I am linking both Michigan’s, Ohio’s, and several other states’ Reportable Disease Lists for you. Ohio has just 37 reportable diseases. These relate primarily to livestock. One or two, according to the Ohio State Veterinarian’s office, relate also to companion animals. It is my opinion that the one or two diseases that relate to companion animals are on the list primarily because they are livestock diseases.
http://codes.ohio.gov/oac/901%3A1-21 (Read Ohio Animal Reportable Disease List)
http://www.michigan.gov/documents/mdard/2013_2014_MDARD_AID_Reportable_Animal_Diseases_426614_7.pdf (Read Michigan Animal Reportable Disease List)
http://www.in.gov/boah/files/2015_Reportable_Disease_list.pdf (Read Indiana Reportable Animal Disease List)
http://www.kyagr.com/laws/documents/KY_Reportable_AnimalDiseases.pdf (Read Kentucky Reportable Disease List)
http://www.agriculture.state.pa.us/portal/server.pt/gateway/PTARGS_0_2_24476_10297_0_43/AgWebsite/Files/Publications/reportable%20diseases04-10pdf.pdf (Read Pennsylvania Animal Reportable Disease List)
http://www.mass.gov/eea/agencies/agr/animal-health/reportable-disease/reportable-disease-listing-generic.html (Read Massachusetts Animal Reportable Disease List)
Ohio, work with us to see stronger protections in place for our cats and dogs. I strongly encourage you to join our FB groups today.