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Animal Law

As Temperatures Drop, a Reminder about Shelter Requirements

With the temperature in the teens for the next few days, we’re sending out a reminder about shelter requirements for companion animals pursuant to state code!

Cleveland enacted new animal neglect ordinances in December 2014, which were then enacted by several other localities. Those ordinances provide bright-line rules about what qualifies as appropriate shelter and higher penalties for violations. For cities that have not enacted stricter sheltering guidelines, state code governs.

Ohio Revised Code § 959.131(D)(3) provides that no person who is the custodian or caretaker of a companion animal shall negligently do the following:

“impound or confine the companion animal without affording it. during the impoundment or confinement, with access to shelter from heat, cold, wind, rain, snow, or excessive direct sunlight if it can reasonably be expected that the companion animal would become sick or suffer in any other way as a result of or due to the lack of adequate shelter.”

There is qualifying language to the shelter requirement — “if it can reasonably be expected that the companion animal would become sick or suffer in any other way as a result of or due to the lack of adequate shelter.”

This is a *proactive* statute that can be used in situations where the companion animal is provided with shelter, but that shelter is inadequate considering the extreme temperatures and due to that lack or inadequacy of shelter, the animal could reasonably be expected to suffer. Evidence of suffering is not a necessary element of this crime. The statute provides humane agents (or other law enforcement) with the proactive ability to seize an animal so that the animal does not have to suffer.

Some considerations for humane agents include the adequacy of the shelter in current winter conditions, any visible signs of suffering (such as “flipper walking” or shivering), the breed of dog or type of animal, and how long the animal has been confined outside.

Since R.C. § 959.131(D)(3) defines cruelty as the negligent confinement of a companion animal to a shelter in a manner in which it can reasonably be expected that the companion animal would become sick or suffer, and R.C. § 959.132 provides the authority for a humane agent to take possession of an animal cruelly treated, those two statutes authorize a humane officer to rescue animals from such conditions.

Moreover, some municipalities have ordinances prohibiting chaining or tethering that apply in these circumstances.

Of course, every shelter situation is different and law enforcement should consult with legal counsel and/or veterinary staff as needed.

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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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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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Wauseon, Ohio man guilty of neglecting pony

State v. Andrew Fox, a case we prosecuted for the Toledo Area Humane Society in the Sylvania Municipal Court.

Andrew Fox was found guilty of one count of animal cruelty for neglecting the care of one horse and one pony. The animals were kept in filthy conditions. The issue of greatest concern was the fact that the pony had very long, overgrown hooves which made it difficult for the animal to walk normally, and caused unnecessary suffering.

Defendant voluntarily surrendered both animals to the Humane Society. Sentencing is scheduled for May 14, 2015.

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Cleveland couple sentenced to jail for keeping dogs in filth

State v. Melody and Edward McDonald; cases we prosecuted for the Cleveland Animal Protective League. Both will serve jail time.

The Defendants, husband and wife, were each found guilty of keeping three dogs in filthy conditions. The floors of the residence were caked with animal fecal matter and debris. The house smelled extremely foul. After receiving notice that a complaint had been filed with the APL, Mr. McDonald abandoned several dogs on Independence Road that were never recovered. He claimed that he left the dogs in a “safe place” because the Animal Warden would find them.

The Defendants were sentenced today by Judge Adrine. The McDonalds were given 180 days in jail, with 170 days suspended. They will both serve 10 days, and the remaining suspended time may be imposed if they fail to complete 5 years’ probation. During probation, they are prohibited from owning or keeping any animal. They must also submit to random inspections.

filthy house Cleveland APL dogs

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Seville, Ohio couple to serve jail time for starving dogs

State v. Augusta and Burdett Crandall; cases we prosecuted for the Medina County SPCA.  Both will serve jail time and are prohibited from keeping companion animals indefinitely.

The Defendants, husband and wife, were each found guilty of companion animal cruelty for starving their dogs Thor and Loki (later renamed Abu and Andor).

The Defendants were sentenced today by Judge McIlvaine of the Wadsworth Municipal Court.  Burdett Crandall was given 90 days in jail, with 75 days suspended.  Augusta was given 90 days in jail with 80 days suspended.  That means he will serve 15 days, and she will serve 10.  The remaining suspended time may be imposed if they fail to complete 5 years’ probation.  During probation, they are prohibited from owning, keeping or living in a residence with animals.  They must also submit to random inspections.   There was no fine, but they must pay court costs and $5,304.17 restitution to the Medina County SPCA.  Finally, they are prohibited from owning or keeping companion animals indefinitely.

At sentencing, Augusta Crandall acknowledged that she went to school for veterinary practice for one and a half years before giving it up for financial reasons.

We are pleased that Judge McIlvaine has sent a strong message to the community about the seriousness of animal neglect.

Before photo SKMBT_C35314091615590

After photo Andor 2

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State v. Joshua Maldonado, Cleveland Animal Abuser Convicted

State v. Joshua Maldonado, a case we prosecuted for the Cleveland Animal Protective League.

Maldonado was found guilty of one count of animal cruelty, a first degree misdemeanor, for the injury to his dog “Diamond.”

In this case, witnesses reported either seeing or hearing the Defendant beat Diamond. When the APL responded to the complaints, Diamond was found with injuries consistent with trauma. Diamond was limping with an injury to her hip that caused her left hind leg to be too painful to use. Diamond was dragging that leg behind her, causing her toe nails and paw pads to wear down and become infected. Two nails were ripped out, two were partially missing, and part of her paw pad was also missing.

Defendant was sentenced to 180 days in jail, a $500 fine and court costs, all suspended. He was also ordered to pay $500 in restitution to the APL. Defendant was placed on a 5 year term of active probation. During that time, he may not keep or possess any animals, and is subject to random inspections. Defendant must also complete community service hours.

Diamond underwent two surgeries to correct her injuries and has since been adopted.

Veterinary neglect Maldonado

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Ohio HB 274 “Goddard’s Law” Assigned to Senate Agriculture Committee

HB 274 “Goddard’s Law” has been assigned to the Ohio Senate Agriculture Committee. A sponsor hearing must be scheduled for this Bill to move on.

HB 274:
• Prohibits any person from knowingly causing “serious physical harm” to a companion animal.
• Enhances the penalty for any person knowingly torturing, tormenting, needlessly mutilating or maiming, cruelly beating, poisoning, needlessly killing, or committing an act of cruelty against a companion animal if the violation proximately causes the animal’s death.
• Prohibits any person who confines or is the custodian or caretaker of a companion animal from negligently torturing, tormenting, or committing an act of cruelty against the companion animal.
• Prohibits an owner, manager, or employee of a dog kennel who confines or is the custodian or caretaker of a companion animal from negligently torturing, tormenting, or committing an act of cruelty against the companion animal.
• Requires the Attorney General, Veterinary Medical Licensing Board, Board of Pharmacy, and Ohio Veterinary Medical Association to collaborate in developing resources to assist veterinarians in identifying clients who may use their animals to secure opioids for abuse.

Now is a great time to write Committee Chairman Cliff Hite and politely request that a sponsor hearing be scheduled and to ask the committee members for their “Yes” vote on Goddard’s Law! Contact the committee here: http://www.ohiosenate.gov/committee/agriculture

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Guilty verdict in kitten abandonment case, Ashland, Ohio

State v. Joyce Amos, a case investigated by the Ashland County Sheriff’s Department and the Ashland County Humane Society.  Defendant was convicted after trial of abandoning a 5 week old kitten by a dumpster at a veterinarian’s office.kitten RIP

Amos was seen at rear of the building after hours putting a live animal trap in her trunk.  The witness turned her car around to ask Amos what she was doing.  Before she was able to turn, Amos drove away, running  stop sign and proceeding at a high rate of speed.  The witness caught up, got the license number, and reported it to the Sheriff’s Department.

Amos admitted to the Deputy that she left the kitten by the dumpster.  She said that she was not the owner of the kitten, which she found abandoned on her porch.  She said she saw other kittens there, and a cat she assumed was a mother cat.  She assumed that either the mother cat would take in the kitten, or that the veterinarian would do so the next day.

The kitten, named “Firecracker,” was retrieved almost immediately.  Despite being provided with excellent care, it died within a few days.

The law provides that an “owner or keeper” of a domestic animal may not abandon that animal.  The central legal question was whether Amos was either an “owner” or a “keeper.”

Judge John Good pointed out that there are no other written appellate decisions which are directly on point on this legal issue in the State of Ohio.  He agreed with our position, that a person becomes the “keeper” of a domestic animal as soon as he/she voluntarily exerts control over it.  Amos was found guilty.  She was sentenced to $150 fine, plus restitution for fees to the  Veterinary Clinic in the amount of $170.50.

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“Goddard’s Law” HB 274 Passes Ohio House

House Bill 274, which aims to make Ohio’s most serious animal cruelty crimes a felony on a first offense, passed the Ohio House of Representatives on December 11, 2013. The vote was 84-8.

As passed by the House and outlined in Ohio Legislative Service Commission’s Bill Summary, HB 274 now:
• Prohibits any person from knowingly causing “serious physical harm” to a companion animal.
• Enhances the penalty for any person knowingly torturing, tormenting, needlessly mutilating or maiming, cruelly beating, poisoning, needlessly killing, or committing an act of cruelty against a companion animal if the violation proximately causes the animal’s death.
• Prohibits any person who confines or is the custodian or caretaker of a companion animal from negligently torturing, tormenting, or committing an act of cruelty against the companion animal.
• Prohibits an owner, manager, or employee of a dog kennel who confines or is the custodian or caretaker of a companion animal from negligently torturing, tormenting, or committing an act of cruelty against the companion animal.
• Requires the Attorney General, Veterinary Medical Licensing Board, Board of Pharmacy, and Ohio Veterinary Medical Association to collaborate in developing resources to assist veterinarians in identifying clients who may use their animals to secure opioids for abuse.

Footage of the House Session can be viewed here: House Session – December 11, 2013

HB 274 will now proceed to the Senate. As Representative Ron Gerberry indicated, “this challenge is only partially done.” We encourage everyone to call or write their Senator to voice support for HB 274 “Goddard’s Law.”

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