Ohio bill would impose stiffer cruelty penalties


Columbus-An Ohio Senator has introduced a bill in the state that would stiffen charges against animal abusers from misdemeanor to felony for specified acts of cruelty.

Columbus-An Ohio Senator has introduced a bill in the state thatwould stiffen charges against animal abusers from misdemeanor to felonyfor specified acts of cruelty.

The word from prosecutors and judges, according to Jack Advent, executivedirector of the Ohio Veterinary Medical Association (OVMA), is that theywould like to "put some teeth into the bill" and actually punishpeople for heinous crimes. The bill would take some animal abuse offensesup to a felony.

"You, in essence, are trying to get the punishment fitting the crime.In the pastsome people were doing some terrible things, but were just gettingtheir hands slapped," says Advent.

The OVMA, according to Advent, is "100 percent" behind theunderlying concept of updating Ohio's animal cruelty statutes.

Advent expects the bill, endorsed and introduced by Sen. David Goodman,to be passed soon. Goodman reportedly planned to arrange sponsors and testimonialssometime in February. A House companion bill is also due to be introducedsoon.

"This bill stands a much better chance than some of the past ones,"says Advent. "Like any piece of legislation, you're going to have differentcamps of thought and (this one) tries to find some middle ground."

Another important aspect of the bill, according to Advent, is that itadds different dimensions to what can be called animal abuse.

"(It addresses) the questions of abandonment, not providing an animalsufficient food and water, and broadens the scope of what is consideredcruelty. Beyond increasing penalties, there are multiple dimensions of whatcan be considered abuse."

It's about time such a bill is added to the Ohio books, says Advent.

"A majority of other states have updated their cruelty bills withinthe last two decades. Ohio is pretty far behind the times," he says.

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