By Marc Kovac
Humane-society agents would have to show proof they have completed requisite training to do their jobs under legislation being considered in the Ohio House.
State Rep. Ronald Gerberry of Austintown, D-59th, is offering House Bill 57 in response to an incident at a Youngstown kennel five years ago where dogs were starved to death.
“Fifteen counts of animal abuse could not be prosecuted because the humane-society agents entered the premises without a warrant,” Gerberry said Tuesday. “Due to the insufficient training of these agents, the abuse, neglect and starvation of the animals could not be entered into evidence.
Gerberry told the House’s State and Local Government Committee, “It is imperative that proper procedures be followed at all times so that crucial evidence can be admitted in court. This can only happen if the humane-society agents know the proper procedures.”
Gerberry offered comparable legislation last session that passed the House.
The bill is a companion of sorts to separate legislation reintroduced by Gerberry this session and titled “Nitro’s Law,” which would increase criminal penalties against kennel owners who abuse or neglect animals in their care.
HB 57 would require county humane society agents to complete at least 20 hours of training on Ohio Peace Officer Commission rules for “the investigation and prosecution of cruelty to and neglect of animals,” according to an analysis by the state’s Legislative Service Commission. Proof of the training would have to be filed with county recorder offices.
Those who fail to comply with the latter could lose their jobs.
Nitro was one of the dogs that died from extreme neglect in 2008 at the High Caliber K-9 kennel on Coitsville-Hubbard Road. The business owner faced a few misdemeanor convictions as a result of the incident and subsequently filed for bankruptcy, avoiding additional civil penalties.