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Author Archives: DanaMarie Pannella

COVID-19: Responsible RestartOhio and Pets

The Ohio Department of Health and Gov. Mike DeWine issued a plan to restart Ohio’s economy during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic on April 27, 2020.

How does Responsible RestartOhio pertain to pets and pet-related business?
✔️On May 1, 2020, veterinary services can resume. Yes, this means “non-essential” spay/neuters can be performed! Facilities that plan to resume providing services must adhere to infection control practices and have sufficient PPE.

✔️On May 12, 2020, consumer, retail, and services, may reopen. Consumer, retail, and services are not further defined, but many services that are often essential for pets, including retail grooming shops, dog walkers, and training centers, are NOT included on the continued closure list. Continued closures include:
-Schools and daycares
-Dine-in restaurants and bars (carry-out is still permitted)
-Personal appearance and beauty businesses
-Older adult daycare serveries and senior centers
-Adult day support or vocational rehabilitation services in group settings
-Entertainment, recreation, and gyms
The full list of continued business closures is available here: https://coronavirus.ohio.gov/…/responsible-restart-ohio/Co…/

Thus, previously closed pet-related businesses such as retail grooming shops and doggie daycares are likely not prohibited from re-opening on May 12. Pet-related businesses that plan to resume providing services must adhere to the Sector Specific Operating Requirements, which include protocols such as ensuring a minimum of 6 ft between people and/or having barriers, employee symptom checks, handwashing, accessible sanitizer, cleaning protocols, and maximum occupancy limits. As of April 28, 2020, face coverings are recommended for employees and guests. The full list of Sector Specific Operating requirements can be found here: https://coronavirus.ohio.gov/…/Sector-Specific-Operating-R…/

Businesses with questions about operating procedures can contact the ODH COVID-19 hotline (1-833-4-ASK-ODH) and/or an attorney for guidance.

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COVID-19: Saving Pets with Special Contracts and Addendums

As a result of the coronavirus crisis, rescues, shelters, animal control facilities, dog wardens, and humane societies have an increased need for volunteer foster homes, who are a lifeline to alleviate overcrowding and economic hardships, as employees and volunteers are unable to come in and care for pets as they normally do.

Complicating matters is that in some situations, routine spay/neuter surgeries have been deemed “non-essential” in order to preserve supplies, such as PPE and oxygen, and to promote staff safety by encouraging social distancing.

Some rescue and shelter operations do not release pets into foster homes until they are spayed or neutered. Most do not release pets into permanent adoptive homes until they are spayed or neutered. Given the lack of available spay/neuter surgeries, a strong foster home, foster-to-adopt, or adoption contract with special spay/neuter provisions can be used to ensure that rescue and shelter operations are able to continue to place pets into foster and adoptive homes while still safeguarding their mission of reducing pet overpopulation. Such agreements give the shelter or rescue the ability to enforce the delayed spay/neuter and reclaim the pet (and/or its unintended offspring) if necessary.

The following sample language is a volunteer foster home agreement addendum. This is a supplement to a foster home contract and is only as strong as the foster home contract is itself. This addendum is not formatted to be used on its own and may not be legally enforceable on its own.  An effective and enforceable foster home contract will include additional critical provisions pertaining to the foster program, such as jurisdiction for enforcement and reimbursement for expenses such as food, transport, and medical care.

This sample addendum is provided for informational use only and should be reviewed by legal counsel in conjunction with the organization’s foster home contract. Rescues and shelters may also consider foster-to-adopt or adoption contracts with special addendums related to spay/neuter and COVID-19.

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Animal Care Exemption Letter during Coronavirus

Image result for dog with letter

Some animal shelter, rescue, and humane society employees and volunteers have reported that they are uncomfortable traveling during Ohio’s Stay at Home COVID-19 order, effective March 24th, because they fear being pulled over by law enforcement without documentation about their activities.

While most law enforcement agencies do not seem to be aggressively questioning citizens, a letter explaining that animal care activities are exempt may help quell these fears.

Here is a sample which you may wish to review with your own legal counsel:

To Whom It May Concern:

Please be advised that _____________ is a current employee/volunteer at ABC ANIMAL RESCUE (the Rescue) located at ___________________.  The Rescue is committed to taking responsible action to combat the spread of the COVID-19 virus, including compliance with all orders from the Ohio Department of Health (ODH.)

The Rescue is aware of the “Director’s Stay at Home Order” issued by ODH requiring all persons to stay at home unless they are engaged in an “essential work or activity.”  Paragraph 12(c) of that order specifically exempts “businesses that provide food, shelter, and other necessities of life for animals, including animal shelters, rescues, kennels, and adoption facilities.”  Furthermore, Paragraph 7 of the order permits travel for the purpose of providing “veterinary care and all healthcare services provided to animals.”  Finally, Paragraph 5(e) permits travel in order to provide care for and the transportation of pets. 

The Rescue is an organization described in Paragraph 12(c) and is therefore exempt for the activities described above.  The person named above is authorized by the Rescue to travel for the purpose of providing these essential services.

Please call _______________ if you have questions or concerns.

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Ohio Nonprofits Beware– “OH Certificate Service”

Nonprofits Beware!
This very official-looking letter purports to provide your new Ohio nonprofit organization a Certificate of Good Standing for the fee of $67.50. This letter is NOT from the Ohio Secretary of State and is extremely misleading. Similar letters are being sent to nonprofits across the country with state-matched names such as “MI Certificate Service” (Michigan) and “CA Certificate Service” (California).

The letter suggests that your organization may need this certificate as “official evidence” of your organization’s existence. In reality, when an Ohio nonprofit organization is formed, you receive an approval certificate with your charter number from the Ohio Secretary of State.

Please review solicitations like this carefully before sending funds and when in doubt, reach out directly to the governmental agency rather than using the contact information contained in the letter. OH Certificate Service’s website does not exist and its address is a UPS Shipping Store. The website uses a “.com” domain, rather than “.gov.” In a tiny font in the middle of the letter under “Business Information,” there is a line that reads “This is not a government agency.” Are they referring to the nonprofit organization or “OH Certificate Service”?

Certificates of Good Standing are rarely needed for Ohio nonprofits and are most often used when dealing with financial institutions. If your organization needs a Certificate of Good Standing, it can be obtained online from the Ohio Secretary of State website for $5.00 (https://www.sos.state.oh.us/businesses/business-reports/#gref) or contact an attorney for help (it won’t cost you $67.50!).

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PACT Act is now federal law–but what does it really cover?

The PACT Act (Preventing Animal Cruelty and Torture Act) was signed into federal law yesterday! This is a great law that builds on 2010’s Animal Crush Prohibition Act by making any activity defined as “animal crushing” potentially a federal crime, whether or not the act is committed as part of a crush video.

Unfortunately, there are lots of misleading and confusing headlines on this law, including that the PACT Act:
“makes animal cruelty a federal felony”
“Mak[es] Cruelty To Animals A Federal Crime”
“Bans Cruelty”
“Make[s] Animal Abuse a Federal Offense”
is a “Sweeping Federal Ban on Animal Cruelty”
covers “Most animal cruelty”

The PACT Act does make some animal cruelty a federal offense, but it isn’t that simple! Here are the basics:

✏️ What is “Animal Crushing”?
➡️ Animal crushing commonly refers to extreme fetish videos depicting animal abuse—where small animals are crushed, ripped apart, burned, or otherwise tortured to death. Usually, this is designed for the sexual gratification of the viewer. In 2010, a federal law was passed that banned the creation or depiction of such videos/acts, but NOT the actual underlying act of animal cruelty.

✏️ What does the PACT Act cover?
➡️  It outlaws purposeful crushing, burning, drowning, suffocation, impalement and other purposeful acts that cause “serious bodily injury” to animals other than fish. It also prohibits some acts of sexual abuse against animals other than fish, but this particular provision seems to have a qualifier that such acts are only prohibited if committed in the “special maritime and territorial jurisdiction of the United States” (federal property). The rest of the PACT Act applies to acts “in or affecting interstate or foreign commerce,” in addition to federal property. This limitation on the jurisdiction of animal sexual abuse crimes seems to negatively affect the federal prosecution of, for example, bestiality videos that are distributed online.
➡️ It outlines exemptions for humane euthanasia; slaughter for food; recreational activities such as hunting, trapping, and fishing; medical and scientific research; normal veterinary, agricultural husbandry, or other animal management practice; unintentional acts; and acts that are necessary to protect the life or property of a person.
➡️ It does not apply to anything other than the specific acts of cruelty listed above.
➡️ It does not cover all acts of animal cruelty.
➡️ It does not cover acts of neglect, abandonment, extreme weather, filthy conditions, or tethering issues.
➡️ It does not cover “puppy mill” issues.

✏️ Does the PACT Act change state and local law?
➡️ No. An offender can only be prosecuted pursuant to the PACT Act if the criminal act occurs on federal property (ex: national parks, military bases) or “in or affecting interstate or foreign commerce.” Federal property (“special maritime and territorial jurisdiction of the United States”) is defined in 8 subsections of 18 U.S.C. § 7: maritime jurisdiction, 18 U.S.C. §§ 7(1), 7(2); lands and buildings, 18 U.S.C. § 7(3); Guano Islands, 18 U.S.C. §7(4); aircraft, 18 U.S.C. § 7(5); spacecraft, 18 U.S.C. § 7(6); places outside the jurisdiction of any nation, 18 U.S.C. § 7(7); and foreign vessels en route to and from the United States, 18 U.S.C. § 7(8)).
➡️ The PACT Act was designed not to preempt or interfere with local/state animal cruelty laws or enforcement. The PACT Act is merely a federal overlay, exactly like the federal animal fighting law(s).

✏️ Who enforces the PACT Act?
➡️ Federal law enforcement in federal courts.

✏️ What are the possible punishments for violation of the PACT Act?
➡️ Violations could result in a fine and up to seven years’ imprisonment.

✏️ Does the PACT Act make all animal cruelty a felony?
➡️ No. As noted above, the PACT Act only applies in a narrow set of circumstances. State and local legislation to strengthen animal cruelty and neglect laws are still needed and very much necessary.

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Sisters to complete 1000 hours of community service for starving their dog to death

State of Ohio v. Christina Davis and Delores Davis, a case prosecuted for the Cleveland Animal Protective League.

Delores and Christina Davis, sisters, were charged with one second degree misdemeanor count related to the starvation death of their dog. The dog was found deceased and emaciated in their yard. The sisters stated they relied on neighbors to provide them with free dog food. The dog’s bowls contained only filth and leaves.

Each defendant pleaded no contest to the charge. They must each complete 500 hours of community service and 5 years of active probation, during which time they cannot own animals and are subject to the APL’s monitoring. 90 days in jail were imposed, and suspended. They will pay court costs.

empty dog bowls starved dog yard

 

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Ohio House Bill 198 Reduces Humane Societies’ Power to Protect Animals

ANIMAL LEGISLATION UPDATE:
HB 198, which abolishes Ohio Humane Societies’ ability to appoint prosecutors to prosecute crimes against animals, was introduced in the Ohio House on 5/11/15. This is the first legislative effort to REDUCE a Humane Society’s ability to protect animals.

Primary Sponsors: Reps. Steve Hambley (R-69) and Greta Johnson (D-35)

Summary: To repeal section 2931.18 of the Revised Code to abolish the humane society’s authority to employ an attorney to prosecute certain violations of law dealing with animal cruelty.

Find your Legislator here: https://www.legislature.ohio.gov/legislators/find-my-legislators

HB 198 Hurts Animals

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Plaintiffs seek victims of Ohio Shiba Inu breeders “Fallscreek Shibas”

In February 2012, Edita Opluštilová, a resident of the Czech Republic, leased her Shiba Inu breed dog Mája to Tina King Duncan and Les Duncan. The Duncans operate as “Fallscreek Shibas” out of New Vienna, Ohio. The Duncans bred Mája twice and refused to return the dog and her second litter of puppies to Ms. Opluštilová. In December 2014, we accomplished the return of Mája and her puppies. The puppies are pictured below.

We also represent James Moglia of New York and Berry Bolink of the Netherlands, who recently filed suit against the Duncans in Highland County, Ohio. The Plaintiffs in this case purchased three Shiba Inu breed dogs from the Duncans, who hold themselves out to be reputable breeders with healthy, pedigreed Shiba Inu breed dogs of “champion” quality. Despite paying premium prices, the Plaintiffs allege that they never received AKC paperwork for their dogs as promised and also that one dog arrived infected with Giardia.

Similarly, we represented Gullborg Knudsen, a resident of Norway, who purchased a “show quality” Shiba Inu dog from the Duncans in April 2014. Fortunately, the dam and sire in Ms. Knudsen’s case were actually AKC registered, unlike those in some of our other cases. We were finally able to acquire the AKC registration papers for Ms. Knudsen’s dog.

The Duncans were previously located in Idaho (See article: Triple damages awarded in dog dispute).

Moglia and Bolink seek other individuals who are similarly situated. If you have purchased an un-registerable or sick dog, or paid for a dog never received from the Duncans, please contact Dana at dpannella@hmlawohio.com or 330-239-4480.

Shiba Inu dogs Ohio

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Savannah man, Michael Johnson, convicted of starving two dogs

State v. Michael Johnson, a case we prosecuted for the Ashland County Dog Shelter/Dog Warden.

Johnson was charged with animal cruelty related to the starvation of his two Golden Retriever dogs, Laney and Sadie.

The Ashland County Dog Warden visited Johnson’s property when it was reported that a dog had been abandoned there. Sadly, Sadie had already passed away. There was a bag containing dog food in the kitchen, just feet away from where both dogs were confined.

Johnson entered a plea to two counts of animal neglect, both second degree misdemeanors, and was found guilty.

Laney recovered and Johnson surrendered ownership to the Dog Warden today.

Sentencing is set for May 4, 2015.

Golden Retrievers Ohio

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Cleveland woman sentenced for neglect of two dogs

State v. Glenda Murray, a case we prosecuted for the Cleveland Animal Protective League.

Glenda Murray was charged related to her neglect of two emaciated, ill dogs tethered without shelter in cold weather. Glenda Murray’s husband, Fuller Murray, who was also charged, is currently serving jail time on felony firearms and assault charges and his animal cruelty case is still awaiting adjudication.

Glenda Murray was found guilty of four counts and was sentenced to the maximum jail term (1 ½ years), all suspended. The suspended time may be imposed if she fails to complete 5 years’ probation. During probation, she is prohibited from owning or keeping any animal. She must also submit to random inspections. Murray must complete 100 hours of community service and pay $230 in restitution to the APL.

Chained dog

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