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Animal lovers of Ohio, act now to enact Nitro’s Law

Published: Fri, November 23, 2012 @ 12:00 a.m.

Time is rapidly running out for the Ohio General Assembly to remove the shameful and embarrassing stain on the Buckeye State in its lenient and insensitive penalties for those who kill and severely abuse animals.

Specifically, the state Legislature must act quickly before adjournment next month to pass Nitro’s Law, a bill sponsored by Mahoning Valley state Reps. Ronald Gerberry and Robert Hagan. The bill would raise the most egregious first-time animal-abuse crimes to felonies.

Nitro’s Law, first introduced in the state’s lawmaking body in 2009, died a slow death in December 2010 when the Legislature failed to carry it to the finish line before the final adjournment of its two-year session. If such insensitive and callous inaction is repeated next month, the bill will die again.

That’s why animal lovers in all corners of Ohio must act now by bombarding state Senate President Thomas Niehaus with demands to move Nitro’s law, formally known as House Bill 108, to the full floor of the Senate for a final vote before adjournment. The bill won House approval nine months ago and won Senate committee approval in May.

A full Senate vote where passage is expected, some minor technical tinkering by the House and a signature from Gov. John Kasich are all that is needed to bring Ohio into the 21st century of compassionate protection for the state’s dogs, cats and other defenseless animals.

Abuse in Youngstown

Nitro’s Law originated from a case of horrid abuse in Youngstown four years ago. In October 2008, Mahoning County Animal Charity humane agents found seven dead and eight malnourished dogs in the backyard kennel area of High Caliber K-9 on Coitsville-Hubbard Road. HB 108 is named for one of the dogs who died, Nitro, a Rottweiler who was a beloved family companion. His owners joined with others in 2009 to form Nitrofoundation.com to work towards legislation that would make such a crime a felony. The man charged in the animals’ deaths, Steve Croley, received misdemeanor punishment of a paltry 30 days in jail and probation.

Passage of Nitro’s Law/HB 108 would bring Ohio in line with 43 other states that have a “first-offense” felony provision on their books for animal abuse and would create both meatier penalties and stronger deterrence value.

A recent case from Norwalk, Ohio, clearly reinforces the need for Nitro’s Law. Last week, Michael J. Hoyt, 44, was sentenced to 180 days in a work-release jail program for shooting and killing his wife’s two white Yorkie puppies. Nitro’s Law would have made that punishment much more severe and much more just.

In the name of justice, animal lovers throughout the Mahoning Valley and the state should channel their outrage toward the leader of the Senate to demand a vote on Nitro’s Law in the coming weeks. Send letters to State Sen. Thomas E. Niehaus, R-New Richmond, 1 Capitol Square, 2nd Floor, Columbus, OH 43215. Email him at niehaus@ohiosenate.gov or call him at 614-466-8082.

Despite the partisan rancor that has stonewalled action on a wealth of vital state bills in 2011 and 2012, animal compassion transcends politics. Long-stalled passage of HB 108 would send a clear message to would-be abusers that Ohio will no longer tolerate inhumane treatment of its most helpless living creatures. It also would at long last remove one abominable blemish of animal injustice from the state’s legal codes.


1paulparks(235 comments)posted 3 years, 7 months ago

Croley received a light sentence but I bet the charge was a first degree misdemeaner punishable by up to 6 months in jail - which is no light sentence.

Leave the law the way it is.

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2shootthem(1 comment)posted 3 years, 7 months ago

paulparks you need a wake up call to the torture and pain these animals that have been murdered had to endure. do really want people that commit these crimes walking your streets do your research all serial killers started with torturing animals and then humans. sick people need to be put behind bars for a long time. animals deserve our protection just like an other living breathing thing to leave the law the way it is will only let the sick people know they can continue with their torture cause ohio laws prevent them from serving the time for their crime.

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3Erin4NitrosLaw(2 comments)posted 3 years, 7 months ago

Ohio is in the dark ages when it comes to animals rights and laws.. This NEEDS passed!! And the puppy mill bill needs passed and then we can get more laws passed to crack down on the sick people who abuse animals in this state! Its a proven fact that animal abusers will also abuse children and can move on to be killers! Please contact your ohio senators now!!!

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4mdsmeck(12 comments)posted 3 years, 7 months ago

And no paulparks - If you look up the court docket - Croley was charged with 4 M2 counts of animal abuse...Had the investigating humane agents not messed up, it would have been 19 counts...And you truly believe that 4 months is sufficient for knowingly, intentionally and needlessly letting dogs starve to death in your back yard??? This was not a case of "I didn't feed my dog today"...This went on for days or even weeks...Can you even begin to imagine the torture that these dogs went through to "starve" to death...Why don't you try not eating or drinking for several days and maybe you would have a different view...IMHO - Anyone that knowingly, intentionally and needlessly kills or severely injures a companion animal should be facing a felony...If they can do it to an animal, they can surely do it to a child or another adult...It has been proven time and again - Do some research into the "link" between animal abuse and further human aggression and violence...

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5paulparks(235 comments)posted 3 years, 7 months ago


4 - 2M counts could have yielded a considerably longer jail sentence than Croley received. Your issue seems to be with the judge.

The current penalty is fine. Let's not elevate animals above humans.

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6mdsmeck(12 comments)posted 3 years, 7 months ago

No paulparks, my issue is 1st with several Ohio Legislators that are blocking HB108/Nitro's Law from being voted on in the Ohio Senate - they are keeping our great state in the dark ages and making us lag behind the majority of other states that do recognize the need for stiffer penalties for animal abuse...2nd with the judicial system for not properly sentencing - the punishment should fit the crime...And 3rd with Croley, who has made it necessary for others to seek legislation try to help deter situations of this nature...Croley was paid up front to basically "babysit" these dogs, which he failed to do...Just as with any other business that provides a service, I would expect that service to be rendered...In this case it is similar to taking your children to a babysitter and that individual starving them to death...My children are grown, so my animals have become my children and are cared for as such...Croley had every opportunity to pick up the phone and call the guardians of these animals and tell them that he could no longer care for them...He had other options available instead of one of the most cruel, agonizing deaths that any living creature should NEVER have to endure...Death by starvation...We both have opinions and you know what they say about opinions...I for one, would hope and pray that no living creature would have to die in this manner and I do have compassion and empathy for them...And BTW - I am NOT trying to elevate animals above humans - We are asking for a 5th degree felony for crimes of this nature...If you check out Chapter 29 of the Ohio Revised Code - You WILL see that similar offenses against humans are 3rd degree to 1st degree felonies...

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7paulparks(235 comments)posted 3 years, 7 months ago


"My children are grown, so my animals have become my children and are cared for as such..."

Proves my point. I don't want to disparage people who love dogs, but really, "similar offenses against humans are 3rd to 1st degree felonies."

There is no similarity between an act committed against an animal and an act committed against a human.

Humans are created in the image and likeness of God.

No, sorry. Your issue is with a weak sentence. Croley could have served 16 months in consecutive sentences - which is enough of a punishment for his unfortunate crime.

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8mdsmeck(12 comments)posted 3 years, 7 months ago

Well, paulparks - We can agree to disagree - You should only hope and pray that your death is nothing like the grueling, agonizing death that these dogs went through.,,.,

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9jlb(1 comment)posted 3 years, 6 months ago

paulparks, Please post ONE good example of how this law would elevate animals above humans? If a daycare starved 8 children to death, it would be considered a felony. If a daycare committed acts of violence against children, it would be considered a felony. HB 108 will protect not only animals, but also people. It is well known that people who commit acts of violence against animals are very likely to commit acts of violence against people. The state needs to control both.

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