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24 Animals Found in Filthy Conditions, Owner Sentenced to 5 years Probation

State of Ohio v. Sheri (Shari) Gilbert, a case prosecuted for Lake Humane Society.

Gilbert pled guilty to all 10 counts of animal neglect on the day of trial. 24 animals, including dogs, cats, parrots, a guinea pig, and ferrets, were seized from Gilbert’s home. The animals were kept in deplorable conditions and suffered from a variety of medical conditions. The foul smell of the residence was described as “beyond words.”

Gilbert was sentenced to 5 years of probation, during which time she cannot own, keep, or reside with any animal. She will undergo random inspections by Lake Humane to ensure that she is not harboring any animals. She must undergo a mental health assessment and complete recommended treatment. Gilbert paid $4,500 for the care of the 24 animals and must pay court costs. If she fails to comply with these conditions, she will face 90 days in jail and a $750 fine.

Alla

Alla, one of the dogs rescued by Lake Humane, was successfully treated and adopted.

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Owner Pleads Guilty to Starving Dog

State of Ohio v. Robert Dunning, a case prosecuted for the Cleveland Animal Protective League.

Dunning was charged with one count of companion animal neglect for the starvation of his dog, Buster. Buster was found outside with filthy water and no food. He was emaciated and severely dehydrated. This case occurred prior to the enactment of new sheltering ordinances in the City of Cleveland.

Dunning plead to the count and was found guilty. He must surrender all of his current animals to the APL and cannot own or keep any animal for a period of 5 years. He will undergo random inspections to ensure compliance. Dunning was also fined $750, the maximum fine for a second degree misdemeanor, and must pay court costs. $500 of the fine and 90 days in jail were suspended and will be imposed if he violates the terms of his probation.

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A Cluttered Van in the Hot Sun is not a Humane Place to keep 17 Chickens.

State v. Sandra Rae Paul, a case we prosecuted for the Loudonville Police, with help from the Humane Society of Ashland County Ohio, was ound guilty of animal cruelty yesterday, and taken to jail.

The evidence showed that the chickens were left in the van for at least 7.5 hours on a day when temperatures were in the mid-80s without shade for the vehicle. The chickens appeared to be lethargic. One died later that night.

Veterinarian, Dr. Melissa Ferry testified that under these conditions, temperatures would reach 130-140 degrees within 40 minutes. She said the chickens would certainly be suffering and would be in danger of heatstroke.

Judge John Good concluded that the vehicle did not provide shelter from sun, but instead amplified the effects of the sun, creating a “death trap.” He scolded the Defendant for blaming the situation on everyone else and taking no responsibility.

The Defendant was sentenced to 30 days in jail for failing to appear, 20 more days for the offense, and will have 70 additional days hanging over her head during 2 years’ probation. During that time, she is prohibited from possessing farm animals, including fowl, and is subject to random inspections.

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Maximum Community Service Sentence for Summit County Animal Neglect Case

State of Ohio v. Sandra Kay Benedum, a case prosecuted for Pawsibilities Humane Society of Greater Akron and also handled by the Summit County Dog Warden.

Benedum, 70, pled guilty to two counts of companion animal neglect regarding 1 dog named Tibet. Tibet had multiple open wounds filled with hundreds of maggots when Benedum brought him to the dog warden for euthanasia. 11 days earlier, Benedum called her veterinarian to complain that Tibet’s odor was making her kids sick, but did not bring the dog in for treatment.

Benedum is banned indefinitely from owning, keeping, or possessing any animal. She will undergo 5 years of probation, during which time she must comply with inspections by the humane society or other law enforcement. She must also complete 400 hours of community service, the maximum for second degree misdemeanors, and pay court costs. If she violates those terms, she faces 180 days in jail.

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Three Bills Signed into Law Concerning Animals’ Protections

Governor John Kasich recently signed three important bills into law that concern protections for this state’s animals. Here is a brief summary of each bill:

(1) SB 215: Grants good faith rescuers immunity from civil liability for damages incurred while using necessary force to enter a locked motor vehicle to help an animal or minor child who is in imminent danger of suffering harm. Rescuers must follow certain steps before and after breaking into a vehicle, which include making a good faith effort to contact law enforcement first, contacting law enforcement after the animal/child has been removed from the vehicle, and leaving information on the vehicle that notifies the owner of the rescuer’s contact information, location of the animal/child, and that authorities have been notified. The rescuer must also remain with the animal/child in a safe location until law enforcement or emergency responders arrive.

(2) HB 60 (“Goddard’s Law”): Makes knowingly causing serious physical harm to a companion animal (a cat, dog, or other animal living in a residential dwelling) chargeable as a fifth degree felony. Under current law, offenders can only be charged with a fifth degree felony for a second act of “knowing” companion animal cruelty or if the offender is an owner, manager, or employee of a dog kennel that commits a first act of “knowing” companion animal cruelty.

HB 60 also allows humane societies to use fines awarded through animal cruelty convictions to provide additional training for existing humane agents, increases the penalties for killing a police dog or horse, and requires development of resources that will help veterinarians identify clients that use animals to improperly obtain opioid drugs.

Unfortunately, HB 60 was amended to prohibit humane societies, the main enforcers of Ohio’s animal protection laws, from using an appointed animal cruelty prosecutor to handle these new felony cases.

(3) HB 187: Allows certain emergency responders to provide basic, stabilizing care to an injured dog or cat before they are transferred to a veterinarian for treatment. HB 187 protects those responders from civil liability and criminal prosecution if they acted in good faith and without willful misconduct. Veterinarians are also protected from liability or professional disciplinary action as a result of care provided by an emergency responder.

Each law will go into effect 90 days after its signing.

Animal law

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Goddard’s Law (HB 60) Summary After Amendment – Ohio Animal Cruelty Bill

Goddard’s Law was originally introduced in 2013 as House Bill 274. Reintroduced in 2015 as House Bill 60, Goddard’s Law has undergone significant changes from its original form. Here is a summary chart of Goddard’s Law as passed by the House and under consideration by the Senate: Holland & Muirden’s Summary of Goddard’s Law

As drafted, an amendment to this bill weakens the ability of our local humane societies to enforce animal cruelty laws and may actually stop humane societies from prosecuting felony animal cruelty altogether. The bill no longer covers egregious acts of neglect, such as starvation and failure to provide veterinary treatment, that result in the animal’s death. If you support felony provisions for the most egregious acts of animal cruelty, contact your Senator and ask them to support the language and intent of House Bill 274.

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Bestiality in Ohio – How Home Rule can help

What is Bestiality?

Bestiality, sexual conduct between a human and an animal, is legal in Ohio unless it can be proven that unnecessary or unjustifiable pain or suffering was caused to the animal. Ohio is one of only a dozen states without a specific law banning bestiality. It is demonstrated that bestiality, like other animal cruelty offenses, often has a correlation to offenses committed against humans. Jeremy Hoffman, a detective with Virginia’s Fairfax County Police, recently told a Senate committee that almost every child pornographer he arrested also had a collection of bestiality pornography.

Many efforts have been made in Ohio to prohibit bestiality, most recently Senate Bill 195 (SB 195). As of April 18, 2016, the bill is stalled in the Senate Criminal Justice Committee.

Taking Action Against Bestiality via “Home Rule”

In Ohio, municipal corporations (cities and villages) have certain powers granted to them in Article XVIII of the Ohio Constitution. This is called “home rule.” Article XVIII, § 3 of the Ohio Constitution provides that “[m]unicipalities shall have authority to exercise all powers of local self-government and to adopt and enforce within their limits such local police, sanitary and other similar regulations, as are not in conflict with general laws.”

Thus, it is possible, pursuant to municipalities’ home rule powers, to enact ordinances prohibiting bestiality within their jurisdictions. Some townships in Ohio also have home rule powers and two counties, Summit and Cuyahoga, have charter governments with county-wide home rule powers.

This document contains a model bestiality ordinance that is in accord with the current version of SB 195. In some instances, this model ordinance includes stricter provisions.

Jurisdictions considering enacting this model law should consult with legal counsel.

View the Model Ohio Bestiality Ordinance Here.

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Jail Sentence for 2014 Neglect and Obstruction Case

State of Ohio v. Donald Lane, a case prosecuted for the Cleveland Animal Protective League.

Charges in this case were filed in 2014 related to three dogs with dermatitis from flea infestation that were kept in filthy conditions. Lane refused to control the dogs during the seizure and one ultimately bit the Humane Agent. Lane failed to appear for court until this year.

Lane pled to a charge of allowing a dog to bite filed by Cleveland Animal Care & Control (City Dogs Cleveland). Lane then pled no contest to one charge of animal neglect and one charge of obstruction in this case.

Lane was sentenced to 5 years of active probation. He must pay $279.64 in restitution to the APL. During probation, Lane may not have any companion animals and is subject to random inspections by the APL. He was sentenced to 180 days in jail. 175 days were suspended.

Lane was taken to jail immediately to begin his 5 day sentence.

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Fine for Animal Cruelty to Lemur

State of Ohio v. Jennifer Toth, a case prosecuted for the Cleveland Animal Protective League.

Toth was charged with one count of animal cruelty related to a Lemur named Nova that had an untreated broken leg. The leg was broken at the time Toth purchased the animal.

Toth pled to one count of attempted cruelty to animals. Toth agreed not to keep any more exotic animals is limited to two spayed/neutered dogs, two male guinea pigs, and a turtle for one and half years. There was no evidence that the non-exotic animals were not being cared for properly.

Additional provisions include payment of court costs, a $250 fine, and $1,109.90 in restitution, representing the cost of amputation of the lemur Nova’s leg. Toth is subject to random inspections and must keep all animals in a humane, lawful, and sanitary manner. She faces 45 days in jail if she fails to comply.

Nova recovered and was sent to a lemur sanctuary.

Nova the Lemur

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Jail Time for Probation Violator; Mother also Pleaded Guilty of Animal Neglect

State of Ohio v. Darlene and Alyssa Morrow, a case prosecuted for Lake Humane Society.

Darlene and Alyssa Morrow were each charged with neglect related to the care of Alyssa’s dog, Honey. Alyssa Morrow was previously convicted of animal neglect in a case prosecuted by the Painesville Police just 4 days before this incident occurred. As part of sentencing in that case, she was allowed to keep 2 dogs, including Honey, whom she described as an emotional support dog.

In this case, Alyssa admitted that Honey was ill for 2 days before she allegedly left the house to stay with a relative. While in her mother Darlene’s care, Honey further deteriorated. For that 6 day period, Honey leaked fluid from her eyes and nose and ultimately passed away from her condition. An informant led Lake Humane to discover where Honey was buried and a necropsy indicated Honey was emaciated and had likely suffered trauma to her chest, causing a cardiac tamponade. Alyssa later stated that her mother had called her multiple times to tell her to call and report the situation to Lake Humane, but she failed to do so.

Darlene pleaded guilty to one count of neglect. She must complete 5 years of probation, during which time she may have no animals and is subject to random inspections. She will further undergo mental health counseling. If she fails to comply, she faces 60 days in jail.

Alyssa also pleaded guilty to one count of neglect. She will serve 8 days in jail, one day for each of the 8 days that Honey suffered. She will further complete 7 days of community work service. She is permanently banned from all animal ownership. Alyssa must complete 5 years of probation and pay $150 in restitution to Lake Humane, as well as court costs. She will face 75 additional days in jail if she fails to comply with these conditions. Further, because Alyssa violated her probation, she must either serve 10 additional days in jail or complete 10 days of community work service.

Moose

Moose, from Alyssa Morrow’s previous case, was successfully rehabilitated by Lake Humane Society.

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