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GOP still dragging feet on Nitro’s Law



Published: Thu, May 24, 2012 @ 12:10 a.m.

By Marc Kovac

news@vindy.com

COLUMBUS

A panel of state senators has signed off on legislation allowing increased criminal penalties against kennel operators who abuse pets in their care.

But questions remain whether House Bill 108, titled Nitro’s Law in memory of a dog that starved to death at a Youngstown business, will receive a floor vote of the chamber before lawmakers break for the summer.

The bill passed out of the Senate’s agriculture committee this week on a unanimous vote, with a few technical changes that did not change its gist.

It was not on the floor Wednesday and not expected to be scheduled for a vote today, with no commitment of action in coming weeks.

“I think the bill’s in great form, and I’m just hoping the Senate takes it out of [the rules committee] and puts it on the floor for us,” said Rep. Ronald Gerberry, a Democrat from Austintown. He added later, “I don’t believe that mutilating and killing animals should be viewed lightly. Nitro’s Law will at least make someone who’s licensed in this state responsible, and I think that that’s what this is about.”

Nitro was a Rottweiler that 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 in Youngstown.

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

HB 108, sponsored by Gerberry and Rep. Bob Hagan, a Democrat from Youngstown, 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.

Sen. Cliff Hite, a Republican from Findlay and chairman of the Senate’s agriculture committee, supports the legislation, saying it focuses on those who knowingly starve or abuse an animal, allowing prosecutors to seek felony charges in such instances.

But other members of the majority caucus aren’t sold on the idea yet.

“There are some concerns that if we make penalties tougher for violating an animal than violating a human being, there’s something wrong with that,” Hite said.

Senate President Tom Niehaus told reporters that he did not have a timetable for a floor vote on the legislation.


Comments

1valleyred(1094 comments)posted 2 years, 2 months ago

Quite the "fair and balanced" title for a hard news story.

Unbelievable Vindicator!

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2mollylm(16 comments)posted 2 years, 2 months ago

I am really tired of some of our esteemed Senators misrepresenting this bill and Ohio law. IF they are truly concerned that SOME instances of child abuse or domestic violence are misdemeanors, then perhaps they can get to work re-writing those laws. The fact is though if someone starves or beats or sets a human on fire, there are a wide variety of laws to choose from for prosecution. Nearly every other state in this country has managed to pass first offense felony laws against companion animal cruelty but a handful of OH Senators can't be bothered with what the voters want to see in this state. Thank you, Sen Hite and others for standing up for what is right. As far as Sen Neihaus and the last few hold-outs, I would certainly not want to be on the wrong side of this bill if I were running for re-election and a case of severe cruelty showed up in my district. The general public hates these stories and they will certainly consider those who seem to not care when they place their votes.

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3OhioVoter50(1 comment)posted 2 years, 2 months ago

The real credit for getting the law passed in the House and Senate Agriculture, Environment & Natural Resources Committee goes to Tom Siesto and Liz Raab (Nitro's guardians), two compassionate advocates who have served as strong leaders for the grassroots movement to push this bill's passage through the Ohio General Assembly! Although Senator Hite and his committee should be commended for their support of HB 108, unfortunately they were heavily influenced by special interests groups in providing a unanimous vote on SB 130, a piece of legislation which will keep dog auctions and puppy mill breeding kennels very much protected in Ohio!

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4AtownAugie(697 comments)posted 2 years, 2 months ago

Seems from the core of the story the headline could have been "Dems Want Hasher Penalties For Those Hurting Animals Than Those Hurting Humans" -- but that would not gibe with the editor's narrative.

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