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Nitro’s Law stalls in the Ohio Senate

Published: Thu, December 13, 2012 @ 12:05 a.m.

By Marc Kovac



Legislation that would increase criminal penalties against kennel operators who abuse pets in their care is not expected to move out of the Ohio Senate this session.

The bill’s sponsor, who offered the law changes after an incident at a Mahoning County kennel, isn’t confident Nitro’s Law will be passed in the new year, either.

House Bill 108 is named in memory of a dog that was starved to death at a Youngstown-area business.

The Rottweiler was among more than a dozen dogs that were found dead or dying from extreme neglect in 2008 at the High Caliber K-9 kennel on Coitsville-Hubbard Road.

The owner of the business faced a few misdemeanor convictions as a result and subsequently filed for bankruptcy, avoiding additional civil penalties.

HB 108, sponsored by Rep. Ronald Gerberry of Austintown, D-59th; and Rep. Robert Hagan, of Youngstown, D-60th; would make it illegal for kennel owners, managers or employees to abuse or neglect pets in their care. Those found guilty of doing so could face felony charges, and judges could place limitations on their future ability to operate kennels.

HB 108 passed the Ohio House in February and moved through a Senate committee a few months later. But it’s languished “below the line” on the Senate calendar, among two dozen-plus bills that either don’t have the support for passage or that were amended into other legislation.

Senate President Tom Niehaus, a Republican from New Richmond, said Wednesday he does not intend to bring up the bill before the end of the lame duck session. The chamber’s last voting session of the year could be today.

“I have concerns with the bill,” Niehaus said. “I continue to look at it, but I don’t expect it to come up. ... We appear to treat abuse of animals and penalize people more for that than we do for the abuse of children. And I think that just doesn’t make any sense.”

Gerberry, who has pushed for passage of the bill for two sessions, said he will introduce it again next year.

“Although I think the chances of passage will be very difficult,” he said. “I was told that some senators think we’re doing too many animal bills. ... This is a real practical approach. This is a good bill. It’s been vetted very well.”

The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, a proponent of the bill, voiced its disappointment late Wednesady.

Vicki Deisner, state director for the group’s Midwest government relations, said: “Animal abuse is always a despicable offense, but when this offense occurs at the hands of one who is paid to protect the animals in their care, the offense is all the more egregious and should be punished accordingly.”


1ulistenup(95 comments)posted 3 years, 6 months ago

Congratulations to Mr. Niehaus!

I appreciate the compassion some people feel for animals, but legislation like this serves to (unwittingly) blur the distinction between humans, who have an immortal soul, and animals, who don't.

The fact is, animal cruelty is a second degree misdemeanor, punishable for up to 90 days in jail and a $750 fine. Compared to other crimes, this is a stiff punishment - and it needn't be elevated. In the Nitro case, the lenient sentence was the judge's fault, not the law's.

I have no proof of this, but I would imagine that many, if not most animal-rights activists are pro-abortion. (Mr. Hagan is.) Why is this? It follows that elevating animals to equality with humans - results in diminishing the value of human life. It is a sad commentary that in today's society, abused animals have a higher status in the law than unborn children. (Even to the extent of denying medical treatment to babies born alive from failed abortions.)

Animals are just that - animals, and they are here for our use, not abuse. But it is misplaced compassion to elevate animals to such an extent that we forget our fellow man.

Mr. Niehaus knows this and he is to be commended.

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2mdsmeck(12 comments)posted 3 years, 6 months ago

ulistenup -If you are going to spout facts, at least get them correct...Violation of ORC 959.131(B) "No person shall knowingly torture, torment, needlessly mutilate or maim, cruelly beat, poison, needlessly kill, or commit an act of cruelty against a companion animal." faces the following penalties - From ORC 959.99 Penalties - "(E)(1) Whoever violates division (B) of section 959.131 of the Revised Code is guilty of a misdemeanor of the first degree on a first offense and a felony of the fifth degree on each subsequent offense."

As above, Ohio already has a "subsequent offense" with a 5th degree felony, but in extreme cases such as:

1. Over the summer in Zanesville, where a man and woman were in a domestic dispute, the male wanted the female to "listen" so he snatched the dog from her arms and slit its throat


2. the case in Ironton where 2 drunk 20 year olds decided to visit their neighbor's dogs, while the neighbors were not home...The dogs were chained to their doghouses and these two decided it would be fun to stab them to death...One dog cowered in the back of its doghouse and the two individuals tore the doghouse to get to the dog to stab it to death...

Why give these individuals a 2nd chance to commit these crimes or other worse crimes???

46 other states and many Ohio Representatives, Senators and Citizens believe in a "first offense" felony, and it's people like you and Ohio Senate President Niehaus that want to keep our great state lagging behind the other progressive states with our archaic laws...

It's really a shame that we do not live in a democracy...If we did, one man or very small group would not be able to hold up progress and the passage of this bill into law...

Stay tuned, you WILL see some MAJOR Companion Animal Law Reform in the very near future, guaranteed...

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3ulistenup(95 comments)posted 3 years, 6 months ago


"Why give these individuals a 2nd chance to commit these crimes or other worse crimes???"

Well... I guess the only sure way not to give these criminals a second chance is to kill them...hm...

Also, put this in your pipe and smoke it...
"What is the ethical difference (not legal difference) between someone who kills a deer 'for fun" and someone who kills a dog 'for fun?'"

There is no ethical difference, yet one act gets you on the front page of the Vindy and the other puts you in jail.

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4islandgrump(59 comments)posted 3 years, 6 months ago

I say put the animal abusers in prison. And HANG the CHILD ABUSERS!

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5CoffeeandDanish(3 comments)posted 3 years, 6 months ago

Mdsmeck: I find your comment reprehensible and the product of obvious ignorance. Nitro's Law in no way indicates an attempt to elevate animals to the level of humans. What it DOES attempt is the application of more stringent penalties for animal abuse. It is a proven fact that most (if not all) child abusers/killers started their heinous careers by abusing animals. You and Senator Neihaus are not to be commended...you are to be pitied for your ignorance and lack of compassion.

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6JT(27 comments)posted 3 years, 6 months ago

ulistenup - You're joking, right?.... "What is the ethical difference between someone who kills a deer 'for fun" and someone who kills a dog 'for fun?'"

When did you ever hear of someone holding a deer captive and starving it, or torturing it for fun? And when does "Family Pet Hunting Season" begin? Hunting deer is totally different than killing, or torturing a neighbor's pet, and if you don't see that, then there must be something wrong with you. Anyone that can commit such despicable acts against domesticated animals, of which a huge portion of our population love and accept as members of their families, should be imprisoned. It is a FACT that profiles of many of the criminally insane jackasses that commit murders in our society have incidents of torture, mutilation and murder of domesticated animals, in their past.

And also, it's sad that an elected official can argue for the leniency of animal abusers by making a comparison to child abusers! Mr. Niehaus, YOU sir are a lawmaker! If you think that child abuse laws are too lenient, (and they are), then perhaps you should attempt to change them instead of dismissing a bill that protects family pets from immoral acts!

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7ulistenup(95 comments)posted 3 years, 6 months ago

Shoot a dog with a gun and kill it for fun... Shoot a deer with a gun and kill it for fun...

No ethical difference. Both are animals. Society has carved out laws to protect domesticated animals - but they are still just that - animals. (Don't they eat dogs and cats in some countries?)

Mr. Niehaus, you're doing a great job! Keep up the good work. Let's keep dogs and cats where they belong - below human beings!

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8paulparks(235 comments)posted 3 years, 6 months ago

Go Niehaus!

It's a perversion to put dogs above people!

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9Erin4NitrosLaw(2 comments)posted 3 years, 6 months ago

Those of you who are against Nitros Law are the same people who own a dog for protection and leave it outside 365 days a year to be miserable.. You are the same people who breed dogs on your back yards for money, the same people who fight dogs for money, who hunt... Yes I do think animals should come before SOME people.. Especially people like you! You are the ones without souls. How can you think its ok for animals to be abused, raped, starved, and killed?!! Wake up and get your facts right.. It is proven that people who abuse animals can go on to abuse and kill people!! I am disgusted by you, and disgusted by our elected officials.. They do not work for the people, only themselves.

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10walter_sobchak(2672 comments)posted 3 years, 6 months ago

Your argument is specious regarding deer and dogs. The feral deer population must be culled since the geography and human density of the state dictates a safe herd size. We cull the domesticated pet population mostly through spaying and neutering. I realize that there is a significant feral dog and cat population but these animals are pests and can be exterminated by any legal means. I agree that some people try to elevate their pets to human status and this is unethical and immoral. But, we have created a distinction for police work dogs which has merit. And, I would have no problem with felony charges for anyone that harms a blind person's seeing-eye dog

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11charms(228 comments)posted 3 years, 6 months ago


"Yes I do think animals should come before SOME people.. Especially people like you!"

Just the kind of attitude that exposes the logical weakness of elevating animals to the level OR ABOVE humans. Talk about hate-filled!


Police dogs and seeing eye dogs are just animals - that we use. So what?

I think the point is that when you elevate the penalty of killing one animal over another, or make it dependent upon HOW you kill it, or upon WHO kills it, you enter into a murky philosophical area - that logically tends to reduce respect for human life.

Nobody countered the "failed" aborted baby being left to die argument. Point - ulistenup!

And your "specious" and "feral" comments just serve to indicate a better than average vocabulary - so what? Killing a dog or a pig or a deer or a chicken or a cow or a cat are all ethically NEUTRAL. Point - ulistenup!

And Erin,

Maybe the intent of ulistenup's arguments was to make you disgusted - so you might leave your comfort zone and seriously consider his arguments.

I think many dog owners are just plain GAGA over animals - and this blinds them to the "peoplefication", if you will - of dumb animals - over human beings created in the image and likeness of God. This is sickening.

A dog is no higher on the ethical scale than a rat. Neither has an immortal soul.

Maybe that is what Mr. Niehaus is concerned about when we try to elevate animal cruelty above child abuse.

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12dclemens(3 comments)posted 3 years, 6 months ago

ulistenup-how very lucky you are to be given the knowledge that the rest of us is not privy to-that of the ageless question of whether animals have souls....I have asked Pastors who have studied the Bible for years, I have asked God himself......and yet you in your wisdom has all the answers?! Amazing.....but the true question is why do you care if there is a felony law in place for first time offenders or not? Maybe because you yourself have no respect for living beings outside of humans (and that is questionable with the lack of respect you have shown towards others with a differing viewpoint than yours). Maybe because you were friends with an abuser or you are one yourself.....I believe there is a place in the world and in Ohio to have a felony abuse for children and for animals....You see, if you believe in a higher power and you believe the bible-than you know He made sure he took care of all-even the sparrow....If he can care humanely for all living beings-than why are we not taking care of what he has put us in charge of? How very pompous of you - a mere human to think you are so much more important than an animal....When noone else can cheer up or bring comfort to people in nursing homes or hospitals- a dog always seems to do the trick....There are so many amazing gifts sent from God -wrapped up in an animals' body-gifts that have taught us animal lovers compassion,, and trust, and love....You have missed out by thinking they are not worth more than to serve us.....But even the homeless waiting to be gassed in our shelters-are worth and should get nothing less than justice when they are abused, tortured and killed......

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13streetsmartt(127 comments)posted 3 years, 6 months ago


"How very pompous of you - a mere human to think you are so much more important than an animal...."

BINGO... an animal rights activist finally GETS IT! HOORAY!

Every human... I MEAN EVERY HUMAN... is much more important than an animal.

And to your question as to why ulistenup cares that animal abuse is or isn't a felony...
Our court system is clogged up to almost a standstill now - and you want dog abuse cases to be ahead of other serious misdemeanors - is just ridiculous!

Dogs do deserve love and compassion - but not to be out on a pedestal.

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14dclemens(3 comments)posted 3 years, 6 months ago

Contrary-I have always gotten it! I am not just an animal activitist-I am a rights or justice activitist... I can actually believe and fight for human rights and animal rights as do all the collegues I stand with on Nitro's Law and all the other animal rights groups....I didnt know Ohioans were so "dim" that they either believe in justice for humans or justice for animals.....I believe in justice for all living things that are being tortured and killed and that cant or wont speak out on their behalf.....To be compassionate and to fight for the rights of innocent living things-four legged and two-should have no baring on one such as yourself who loves to be smartmouthed but wont try to learn from others.....someday when we all meet our Maker-the argument will no longer exist.....You either believe or you dont.....You will either do His work or you wont.....I choose to do the "right" thing....I dont care if you like it, support it, understand it, or fight it....Karma is a very powerful thing......So are the Believers! One thing I dont understand-why does it bother you and people like you so much that you become down right ugly towards people like me? We arent the ones hurting anyone...It is our time and our right to fight for what we believe in.....Maybe a long time ago you just gave up on believing......

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15streetsmartt(127 comments)posted 3 years, 6 months ago


Elevating abuse to animals to a felony is a problem because:

1. It overburdens the court system - which has more than enough trouble dealing with crime against people.

2. It diminishes overall respect and regard for "people crimes."

3. It elevates dogs to an almost mythical standard of treatment that eventually swatting your dog on the nose with a newspaper will result in possible prosecution.

4. It will encourage people to become "abuse hunters" and eventually interfere with a person's rights to discipline an unruly or vicious dog.

The "right thing" is to leave the statutes as they are regarding animal abuse.

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16dclemens(3 comments)posted 3 years, 6 months ago

Streetsmarts-All but one of your arguments are not worthy to even respond to because points 2,3, and 4 are just foolish...However I will respond to point 1. You are right that the courts are over crowded and here is the reason why.....This summer alone I sat in on several court cases.....What an eye opener all but a couple were violations of probation. Had they have been felonies like they should have been to begin with, they could not have broken the law again as they would have been incarcertated....So if ALL our laws were more strict and the courts would prosecute to the full extent there would be ample time to take on a few more cases.....You obviously have not read Nitro's Law-it would only have added less than half a dozen new felony cases to the court system...You may want to read it so you know what you are arguing against....And one more thing-murder is on the uprise...When we have an over abundance of murder trials on the court dockets and they cant keep up-should we change the murder charge to a misdemeanor rather than a felony....

I am finished discussing this with you-you wont change my mind and I cant change yours...you either are compassionate or you are not.......

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17nothingdone(1 comment)posted 3 years, 6 months ago

Senator Tom "The Butcher" Niehaus, you are a coward.

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18ulistenup(95 comments)posted 3 years, 6 months ago


You are a fool...

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19JT(27 comments)posted 3 years, 6 months ago

Hey streetsmart - "Every human... I MEAN EVERY HUMAN... is much more important than an animal."

Asinine statement. Do you think the guy that just shot dead the kindergarten class in CTs life is more important than a seeing eye dog's life, or any dog's life. If you do, then you're a sick SOB.

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20ulistenup(95 comments)posted 3 years, 6 months ago


Yes, my friend, he is.

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21GoPens(397 comments)posted 3 years, 6 months ago

And with that, ulistenup just lost all credibility. Congratulations! No sane, rational person will take you seriously now. Now crawl back into your hole.

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22FormerYtowner(96 comments)posted 3 years, 6 months ago


I have looked through some of your posts, you are nothing more than a troll. You show up in hot topic debates, spew some incomprehensible vomit, stir crap, ,bring no useful conversation or debate, and generally add nothing to the debate. Like GoPens said, no rational person will take you seriously. Do us all a favor, don't go away mad....just go away.

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23ulistenup(95 comments)posted 3 years, 6 months ago


What kind of debates do you comment on, if not "hot topic debates?"

Just because someone doesn't agree with your view of life does not make him a troll.

But your posts indicate that you are intolerant bully - forcing your opinion down the throats of the few reasonable bloggers who use this forum.

When I agree with you, I'll tell you - otherwise, why don't you follow your own advice and keep your trolling to a minimum.

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24CoffeeandDanish(3 comments)posted 3 years, 6 months ago

Dclemens? You are a frightening person. Your opinions are those belonging to an uncaring and probably abusive person. You disgust me.

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25CoffeeandDanish(3 comments)posted 3 years, 6 months ago

mdsmeck...of course I was not referring to you!.

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