New Ohio law makes animal cruelty a felony

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A first time conviction for animal cruelty in Ohio could soon result in harsher penalties.

According to published reports, state lawmakers recently passed HB60, which is also known as Goddard’s Law. The bill — which clarifies and strengthens the state’s existing animal cruelty statutes — becomes law once Gov. John Kasich signs it.

Eli, the In Brief Legal Writing Services mascot.
In Brief Legal Writing Services mascot Eli catching up on the latest news. Photo by Alexandra Bogdanovic

As it now stands, Ohio law prohibits anyone from “knowingly torture, torment, needlessly mutilate or maim, cruelly beat, poison, needlessly kill, or commit an act of cruelty against a companion animal.” That remains unchanged. However, the new language in the version of HB60 passed by the House is even more explicit about what constitutes “serious physical harm,”  and the penalties upon conviction.

It stipulates that “no person shall knowingly cause serious physical harm to a companion animal” by doing any or all of the following:

  • Withholding adequate food and water (directly resulting in the companion animal’s illness or death)
  • Causing the companion animal to be and remain in pain for a prolonged or sustained period
  • Engaging in any activity that could kill the companion animal
  • Engaging in any activity that the companion animal’s partial or permanent and total disability
  • Engaging in any activity that causes prolonged suffering

Anyone convicted of doing any or all of the above faces a fifth-degree felony charge and faces six months to a year in prison upon conviction.

Why Is This Such A Big Deal?

In most states, someone found guilty of animal cruelty for the first time only faces a misdemeanor charge. This usually means that he or she can be sentenced to up to a year in jail, fined or both. In some states there are harsher penalties the next time you’re convicted and for each time after that.

But in most cases the offender just gets a proverbial “slap on the wrist.” And given the correlation between violence targeting animals and violence towards people, I think that’s an absolute joke.

What do you think? Leave a comment below and let me know.

 

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