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Nitro’s Law deserved better treatment in General Assembly

Published: Mon, December 24, 2012 @ 12:00 a.m.

Nitro’s Law would have seemed to be a bill that would sail through the Ohio General Assembly in days rather than years. It was, after all, named for a dog, and just about everyone loves dogs — or at least they say they do.

The law was inspired by a horrendous set of circumstances that got wide publicity at the time. Nitro was one eight dogs starved to death while in the care of an unscrupulous kennel operator and dog trainer in Youngstown in 2008. Now, there’s no denying that some aspects of the criminal case against that kennel owner, Steve Crowley, were botched locally, which resulted in Crowley getting off with a ridiculously light sentence given the damage he did.

But while in a perfect legal environment, Crowley would have done more time, the fact remains that the only charges he could face were misdemeanors. Nitro’s Law would have made it possible for authorities to bring felony charges against kennel operators who abused the animals entrusted to them.

To most people that would not seem unreasonable. Crowley presented himself as a trustworthy and professional custodian of dogs to unsuspecting owners who not only put their animals in his care, but gave him money to assure its provision. To allow healthy dogs to starve to death over a period of weeks rises to a level of malfeasance and criminality that should offend any decent person, regardless of their affinity for pets.

And yet, Nitro’s law died in the Ohio Senate. It languished there for six months after the House passed it until two weeks ago, when Senate President Tom Niehaus, a Republican from New Richmond, announced there wasn’t time to give the bill a vote.

The most logical explanation is that kennel interests and their lobbyists were somehow more persuasive than the dog lovers who supported the bill.

Rep. Ronald Gerberry of Austintown, D-59th, says he’ll reintroduce the bill in the new session. Good. Nitro and the rest of the dogs at Crowley’s kennel deserved better treatment than they got, and the bill named for him deserved more than it was given by the Legislature.


1ulistenup(95 comments)posted 3 years, 7 months ago

It's a dog's world.

How could anybody be against Nitro's law? Who isn't disgusted by what Crowley did? What difference would it make if we just made this crime a felony?

Criminal law matters, that's why. Criminal law expresses society's views on morality.

Where we (amusingly) once condemned spitting on a sidewalk, we have seen a deterioration of what once was considered reprehensible conduct: e.g., abortion & sodomy are now legal. Same sex marriage is legal in many places.

Criminal laws do not exist in a vacuum. They are related to one another - one punishment must be in proportion to other punishments in the Revised Code of Ohio.

Felonies are the most serious of crimes and traditionally have been applied primarily to offenses against people, not animals.

It is only in recent times that crimes "against animals" has been raised in many jurisdictions to the most serious level, that of a felony.

Who could be against that? I am.

Our jails are already overcrowded. We routinely release non-violent prisoners early to make space for serious offenders.

Do we really want to release people accused of domestic violence before we release "Nitro defendants?"

Do we really want to elevate crimes against dogs above drunk driving?

I like dogs. I really do, but do we really need to put dogs above our fellow man? (Because this is what knee-jerk reaction laws, like Nitro's law, accomplish.)

With the trends being to de-criminalize abhorrent behavior, should we make an exception in this case just because the punishment levied in Crowley's case was "botched?"

Yes, you would think this law would "sail through" the legislature, but maybe Mr. Niehaus has a different reason for saying no - than just opposing Mr. Gerberry. Maybe he's just more concerned about "human abuse" than animal abuse.

Suggest removal:

2youngspartanrepublican(92 comments)posted 3 years, 7 months ago

Ron Gerberry seems more interested in protecting dogs than anything else.

Suggest removal:


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