Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Animal Cruelty Legislation Passes from Ohio House

COLUMBUS—Today, the Ohio House of Representatives voted to pass legislation to increase the penalty for cruelty to animals and to help avoid future acts of violence by properly addressing the issue of minors who torture or abuse animals.
Substitute House Bill 25 increases the penalty for committing cruelty to animals for a second or subsequent violation from a second-degree misdemeanor to a first-degree misdemeanor. The bill also requires a court to impose a term of either basic or intensive probation supervision on an offender who knowingly commits cruelty to a companion animal.
“The current penalties for animal abuse in Ohio are no more than a slap on the wrist and do nothing to punish the abuser or prevent future acts,” said State Representative Courtney Combs (R-Hamilton), who sponsored the legislation. “This legislation addresses those concerns by increasing the penalty of cruelty to animals.”
Studies have shown that people who commit violence toward animals as children have a greater chance at being more violent later in life. Thus, Sub. H.B. 25 requires a juvenile court to require a child under 18 years of age who is adjudicated a delinquent child for committing cruelty to a companion animal to undergo a mandatory psychological evaluation. If individual or family counseling is recommended by the evaluation, the bill requires the court to order the child to attend counseling and to determine the frequency and length of such treatment.

Sub. H.B. 25 also permits judges to include in a criminal protection order, criminal domestic violence temporary protection order, civil stalking order, sexually oriented offense protection order, or civil domestic violence protection order any companion animal that resides in the complainant’s or alleged victim’s residence.
In committee last year, we heard many heart-wrenching stories of individuals abusing or killing a pet in order to invoke a reaction or threaten their victims to return home,” Combs said. “One study showed 48 percent of battered women delayed leaving a dangerous situation out of concern for their pets’ safety. When the pets also had been abused, the percentage of women who delayed leaving rose to 65 percent. There is a proven link between animal abuse and domestic violence.”
Sub. H.B. 25 passed by a vote of 88-7 and will now move to the Ohio Senate for further consideration.