Wednesday, February 27, 2013

We Must Make Laws Tougher in 2013

From Amy Beichler, Director
PAWS Ohio (Public Animal Welfare Society)

Dear volunteers, friends, family, fellow animal welfare advocates,

I am requesting strongly that those of you who have a Facebook Page, please post the flyer image (below) by our volunteer Tricia Ringholtz concerning Forrest, the beautiful Mastiff that was chained to a tree in Cleveland Heights, Ohio, and shot 2 times and left to die.

Forrest was shot on Sunday afternoon of November 25, 2012, Forrest lay bleeding all night long.  Forrest was discovered by a dog walker the following morning and rescued. Please know, unfortunately HB 108, otherwise known as Nitro’s Law, WOULD NOT protect a situation like Forrest, and make it a felony to shot him. The individual that has been arrested in conjunction with the Forrest shooting has been charged with a second degree misdemeanor.   Herbie, the dog in Lorain Ohio, neglected and tossed aside, unfortunately HB 108 WOULD NOT make it a felony for the neglect and abuse this helpless dog suffered. We need HB108, but we also  need more.  Someone shot a dog, left him to die, and under Ohio law could only be charged with a second degree misdemeanor.  Please see below the focus of HB 108:

Two Democratic lawmakers say they will reintroduce legislation allowing increased criminal penalties against kennel owners who abuse or neglect pets.

State Rep. Ronald V. Gerberry, from Austintown, and Rep. Bob Hagan, from Youngstown, offered comparable legislation last session after an incident at a Youngstown kennel.

“If you are the owner of a kennel and you mistreat an animal, the county prosecutor or the city prosecutor should have the right to charge you with a felony,” Gerberry said. “[I’m] not saying they have to but saying they should have that option.”

The proposed legislation would have enabled prosecutors to seek felony charges against kennel owners who abuse animals in their care. About 45 other states already rank some animal- cruelty charges as felonies.

“The abuse of someone’s pet is deplorable and disgusting,” Gerberry said in a released statement.

Hagan added in the statement: “Every time you pick up the paper or turn on the news you hear about another case of animal abuse. This bill will give local prosecutors the necessary tools to punish those inflicting cruel and unusual punishment on pets.”

The two lawmakers offered the legislation in response to an October 2008 incident in which humane agents found 15 dogs dead or dying at the High Caliber K-9 on Coitsville-Hubbard Road near Youngstown.

The kennel operator initially faced 19 counts of cruelty to animals, but those charges were later reduced to four with misdemeanor penalties.

The bill is being called Nitro’s Law, after one of the dogs that died at the Kennel. Comparable legislation cleared the Ohio House last session on a split vote but died in the Ohio Senate.

As a community that values our companion animals we need to work together to support not only HB 108, but also the other 6 below:

ACTION ALERT!  It's important for Ohioans to recognize that SEVEN companion animal bills languished in the 129th General Assembly! All of these bills dealt with companion animal cruelty - three of which recommended prosecution of criminal offenses as a felony of the fifth degree - in one form or another:

1. Ohio Dog Auctions Act (would have banned Ohio ‘puppy mill’ dog auctions)

2. HB 25 (would have included companion animals in domestic violence/stalking protection orders)

3. HB 108 - Nitro’s Law (would have provided discretion in prosecuting kennel owners, managers and employees who knowingly committed an act of animal cruelty as a felony of the fifth degree)

4. HB 138 (would have required a person to file proof of successful completion of training with the county recorder prior to being appointed as a humane society agent)

5. HB 289 (would have made bestiality a felony of the fifth degree)

6. HB 290 (would have made an assault against a dog warden, deputy dog warden, humane agent, or animal control officer a felony of the fifth degree)

7. HB 300 (would have provided protections for search and rescue dogs)

Cruelty to animals and violence towards people share common characteristics. Until recently, however, violence towards children and the elderly, and other domestic violence had been considered to be unrelated to violence towards animals. A correlation has now been established between animal abuse, family violence, and other forms of community violence. A growing body of research indicates that people who commit acts of cruelty towards animals rarely stop there. People who abuse animals are not only dangerous to their animal victims but may also be dangerous to people.

2013 must be a year of new beginnings – for every aspect of companion animal cruelty in Ohio. It is my firm belief that until our legislators reorder their concerns, those atop the food chain will continue to be the victim of violent crimes as long as Ohio continues to have some of the weakest animal protection laws in the nation.


1. Write to to learn more about plans for a 2013 Ohio Companion Animal Legislative Summit!

2. Read the Animal League Defense Fund (ALDF), 2012 U.S. Animal Protection Laws Rankings™ - Ohio ranks 34th!

Thank you for supporting and advocating for animals,

Amy Beichler, Executive Director
Public Animal Welfare Society of Ohio (PAWS Ohio)
A Nonprofit Humane Society Serving the Animals & People of Greater Cleveland and Cuyahoga County Since 1976
Follow us on
Twitter: @PAWSOhio

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