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‘Nitro’s Law’ calls for stiffer penalties for animal abuse

Published: Thu, April 7, 2011 @ 12:08 a.m.

By Marc Kovac



Tom Siesto held up a small box for state lawmakers to see.

Inside, he said, were the cremated remains of his beloved family dog Nitro, a Rottweiler that died as a result of extreme neglect by a Youngstown kennel operator.

The dog and others were starved to death.

“When the humane agent opened the black body bag, that image will be forever burned in my brain,” an emotional Siesto said Wednesday. “My once-105-pound Rottweiler was curled up in a fetal position with bones sticking out everywhere, his nail split open from trying to escape the living hellhole which he was imprisoned in, his once warm brown eyes filled with his love and trust for us now dead and lifeless staring back at me.”

He added, “My defenseless dog, my poor boy, my pride and joy … How could this happen?”

Siesto provided proponent testimony Wednesday before the House’s Criminal Justice committee on House Bill 108, which would allow stiffer criminal penalties against kennels that abuse or neglect animals in their care.

Democratic state Reps. Ronald Gerberry of Austintown, D-59th, and Bob Hagan, of Youngstown, D-60th, offered the legislation in response to an October 2008 incident in which humane agents found 19 dogs suffering starvation at the High Caliber K-9 on Coitsville-Hubbard Road. Eight of those animals died, Siesto said.

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

The owner subsequently filed for bankruptcy, thus avoiding civil penalties in the matter.

The legislation is being called “Nitro’s Law,” after Siesto’s dog.

“Due to the current animal-cruelty laws in Ohio, Nitro and his fellow companions never received the justice they deserved,” Siesto said. “The scales of justice were tilted in favor of the criminal that committed these horrific acts — only four months jail time.”

The legislation would make it illegal for kennel owners to abuse or neglect pets.

Those found guilty of doing so could face felony charges, and judges could place prohibitions or limitations on their future ability to operate kennels.

The bill would cover “companion animals,” defined as any animal that is kept inside a residential dwelling or any dog or cat regardless of where it lives, according to an analysis by the state’s Legislative Service Commission.

Comparable legislation passed the Ohio House last session on a split vote but died in the Ohio Senate. Supporters are hoping the two chambers will move on the bill this session.

Siesto said: “Crimes against defenseless animals are the same types of crimes done to defenseless children and other fellow humans ... It is our duty as human beings to protect those that cannot protect themselves.”


1Askmeificare(810 comments)posted 4 years, 7 months ago

"The legislation would make it illegal for kennel owners to abuse or neglect pets.

Those found guilty of doing so could face felony charges, and judges could place prohibitions or limitations on their future ability to operate kennels."

That's it?

It's still a "parking ticket" mentality??

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2lilgandee(103 comments)posted 4 years, 7 months ago

Dog fighting and abuse are so despicable but the penalty never seems to fit the crime. I am so saddened that all of those pets received such horrible "care" and they got nothing. When are lawmakers going to put the victims first? Abuse is rampant with animals and children by people who know that their civil rights won't be violated. It has to change with even more penalties than what they are going after. So sorry for all of their losses.

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34theluvofdog(1 comment)posted 4 years, 7 months ago

This law should not even be an issue, this is a matter of morals!! The animals in Ohio are suffering at an alarming rate. I hope this man is NEVER around any animal EVER AGAIN!! The suffering these poor animals endured is uncalled for and unimaginable... The wrong animal suffered... this POS should have been suffering the same fate as those dogs. It looked like he did not miss any meals. Just remember, Jeffrey Dahmer was from Ohio and look how his life turned out and he started out abusing animals...want to share a hamburger with Mr. Croley at a "block party"? I sure wouldn't want him in my neighborhood!! The same man who slept at night with poor innocent dogs starving and thirsty, howling in pain literally right outside his window is free to walk amongst the children in his community.... free with only a midemeanor conviction.... SHAME, SHAME, SHAME!!!!

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4kerrypeterson(1 comment)posted 4 years, 7 months ago

Until animals are not viewed as "property" little is going to change. RIP innocent doggies.

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5rottenfurkids(1 comment)posted 4 years, 7 months ago

It's time Ohio take a stand against animal abuse/animal cruelty. Please support Nitro's Law. Don't let there deaths be for nothing. Please Ohio.....Stand up with the other states that care for their animals....It's already been proven that if one can abuse animals they can also abuse children...Please make animal abuse a Felony and hold them accountable for their actions.

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6puplover(1 comment)posted 4 years, 7 months ago

Make all animal abuse a felony. The whole country is watching to see how this is handled. There is no excuse for what was done to these living, breathing, pain feeling animals!

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7colleen748(1 comment)posted 4 years, 7 months ago

Nitro's Law must be passed! Ohio needs to step in line with the majority of the country and make animal abuse a felony. People who abuse animals deserve maximum punishments and absolutely NO MERCY.

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8nitrofan(1 comment)posted 4 years, 7 months ago

This broke my heart that day I heard what happened to NItro and the other sweet trusting babies. Our dogs are so dedicated to us and want nothing more than to please us and give us love and then they end up being starved to death by that disgusting Steve Croley. He is a very sick person. For someone that allegedly knew dogs - to allow that to happen, I don't have words to describe it. Why? And then not to be punished, to be able to walk free without any fine and jail time. It's unforgiving. The laws to protect animals need to be strenghtened......that's an understatement, we have no laws to protect animals! We can't allow people to abuse and neglect animals and then discard them as if they're garbage. The perpetrators of these acts are garbage, not the poor innocent animals. Ohio politicians should be ashamed of themselves and this state. It's embarrassing to admit I'm from Ohio when discussing animal cruelty laws - I should say the lack of laws.
We need to pressure our senators and representatives to make changes. We need to write them, call them and email them. It might be our pet next, we cannot allow this to continue. My heart breaks for Liz and Tom but admire their tenacity to fight for change. Thank you Nitro, you and the others will hopefully have not died in vain but for change to protect other pets that are loved as much as you were and still are!

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9chp(1 comment)posted 4 years, 7 months ago

"The legislation would make it illegal for kennel owners to abuse or neglect pets."

It's hard to believe that abuse and neglect are not already illegal - and that this is controversial.

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10DogLuvr(1 comment)posted 4 years, 7 months ago

Decent Ohio residents need to lobby their government for stiffer penalties for animal abuse. Animal abuse needs to be a felony with serious consequences, otherwise it will never be eradicated. The people of Ohio need to take a stand and make sure that their elected officials get this law passed. Otherwise, vote them out. This is a landmark case for animals and Ohioans - please do the right thing.

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11PARbigdogs(7 comments)posted 4 years, 7 months ago

In the state of Ohio you can starve, beat, torture, mutilate animals and walk away with a slap on the wrist (if that) but if you take Perch illegally from Lake Erie, you can face 4-15 years behind bars and $43,000 in fines. Am I the only one appalled by this?

FELONY Animal Cruelty ... that is Nitro's Law (Ohio HB108). Contact your state legislatures and ask they support and pass this bill. Contact your local officials & judiciary and ask they ENFORCE Animal Cruelty laws. It's time that Ohio hold perpetrators accountable for abusing animals.

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12mollylm(16 comments)posted 4 years, 7 months ago

All of us in Ohio who care about animal cruelty (and how can you not?!) owe a huge thanks to Nitro's family for turning their heartbreak into something positive and fighting for change in our laws. The fact you can do anything to an animal and if it's the first time you're caught it is always a legal handslap is appalling. Please keep an eye on the progress of this law and let your state reps know you demand they support it as well.

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13ctamburrino(5 comments)posted 4 years, 7 months ago

I can't even imagine if this happened to any of the pets I have owned. People that have no conscience that can do something like that must have other serious violence and emotional issues if they can watch something suffer without any remorse. Unless it's recognized that this is a serious problem, there will continue to be victims of senseless abuse and the perpetrators will believe there's nothing wrong with this behavior. Man domesticated animals to help us and they became companions that depend on us. It's up to us to provide them with basic care, comfort and love plus protection from cruelty. 45 other states already have protection laws, Ohio needs to join this much needed change.

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14mammenchiro(10 comments)posted 4 years, 7 months ago

Law makers think that the voters don't care about animal rights but they do. The organizers of Ohio Companion Day had to turn away over 200 people because of space limitations!!! And look how much money is dumped in the charities. I don't love HSUS, but I think their working budget is over 100 million dollars per year!! ALL FROM DONATIONS WRITEN BY VOTERS!! AND LETS NOT FORGET. PEOPLE WHO ABUSE ANIMALS ABUSE HUMANS.

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15luvsdogs(70 comments)posted 4 years, 7 months ago

My dogs are my family members and I want laws to protect companion animals and laws to punish the monsters that commit these horrible crimes. I used to kennel my dogs too but I haven't since this happened. It's a day I will never forget nor will I ever forget these dogs and their families. I keep them all in my prayers. I am embarrassed to say I live in this state and I am very afraid knowing this monster and others are living in my community. I will continue to do my part by voicing my support of this bill to Rep. Gerberry and Senator Schiavoni as well as the Committee members. This needs to be passed now.

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16GPimmy(1 comment)posted 4 years, 7 months ago

Dogs (or any family pets) are not dispensible, they are family members... more harsh consequences need to be imposed on those who abuse these innocent, loving, trusting animals. They cannot speak for themselves so we must be their voice. Please pass Nitro's Law!

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17sandra_robinson(1 comment)posted 4 years, 7 months ago

Siesto said: “Crimes against defenseless animals are the same types of crimes done to defenseless children and other fellow humans ... It is our duty as human beings to protect those that cannot protect themselves.”

Truer words have never been spoken. We ALL are responsible for protecting those who can not protect themselves. It is a sad commentary on our society that we need laws like this, but we do. I fully support this law and encourage you to do the same.

Hats off to Tom Siesto for turning his pain into a campaign to see that this kind of crime receives justice in Ohio.

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18ShelleyBright(3 comments)posted 4 years, 7 months ago

This is Nitro's Law http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cC63DA...

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19ShelleyBright(3 comments)posted 4 years, 7 months ago

and....this is the Nitro Revolution http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c9XlTP...

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20asharp(1 comment)posted 4 years, 7 months ago

thanks vindy for keeping this in the news. we cant let this die again.

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21ShelleyBright(3 comments)posted 4 years, 7 months ago

While it may be far from perfect in legislation; Nitro's Law is the entry way that has been closed for the animals of Ohio and with its inception...it will be an open window of legislative opportunity that will finally instill a breath of fresh air for a humane mindset necessary to combat the apathetic indifference to a defenseless being's suffering. GO NITRO!

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22Twyste(1 comment)posted 4 years, 7 months ago

Thank you for covering this. This law should not need to be passed - these things should already be considered heinous crimes and punished as such - but apparently we do need a separate law spelling it out. I commend Nitro's family for not giving up the fight. I wouldn't either if it had been my pet, my friend, my family, that this animal disguised as a human being had destroyed.

I truly hope we see Nitro's Law passed this year. Too many animals suffer, and their abusers go on to abuse more animals, along with people, and they need to know we will NOT stand for it!

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23lacey0708(1 comment)posted 4 years, 7 months ago

Thank you for covering this!! Ohio has been front and center this year for horrific acts against animals... this is coming from Virginia so I know word is out across the country!!! Politicians beware this could happen to your animals.. never stop fighting or forget!!!

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24leylaaiysha(1 comment)posted 4 years, 7 months ago

I think it is disgusting that anybody can come along and open an establishment for the care of animals without stringent investigations to make sure they are compotent enough. If this had been the case then the guy that was left to care for Nitro would have never been able to and he may still be alive, but even though he has caused the horrific death of animals in his care by his neglect he still does not get the just punishment and justice is not served for the suffering that those poor dogs went through. This is a man that had no regard for anyone but himself and in society people like that do not need to be free. If they are capable of hurting or neglect on this level he is capable of anything. I hope the laws get changed very soon and I thank this publication for highlighting the story of Nitro and the battle that his owners are facing.

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25StrykersMom(2 comments)posted 4 years, 7 months ago

To starve, abuse or torture an animal shows a complete lack of respect for life as a whole. To believe this will only manifest towards animals is naive. Those who choose to ignore this, are in essence, condoning this behavior. To take the stance against harsher laws and punishments, makes one equally as guilty. To state one is against such behavior, but then take no action, is just as bad.
It is way past time for Ohio and the rest of the world to declare this is no longer acceptable, will no longer be tolerated, and follow our statements up with actions.

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