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Criminal Law

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 cockfighter Carlos Diaz to serve six months in jail

State v. Carlos Diaz, a case we prosecuted for the Cleveland Animal Protective League.

Diaz kept 15 roosters and hens in a filthy, sewage-filled basement. A number of the birds had untreated injuries, were underweight, or were otherwise ill. Food for the birds was scattered amongst the sewage, and no clean water was available.

Diaz admitted that he was training the roosters to fight. He further admitted that he sold and shipped the birds to Puerto Rico where they would be fought.

When the APL’s humane agents responded to Diaz’s residence, they found a fighting pen, where feathers were on the floor of the pen and blood was splattered on the walls. In addition, they found other items consistent with cockfighting: a timer, 3 pairs of rubber sparring pads, medications, performance-enhancing vitamins, salves, and syringes. Five pairs of spurs, razor-sharp knife-like devices strapped to roosters’ legs for causing damage to their opponent, were found wrapped in bloody adhesive tape (pictured here).

Cockfighting is a cruel, abusive, and barbaric practice that tortures animals, endangers the health and safety of the public, and is known to facilitate other crimes, such as illegal gambling, drug abuse and sales, and firearms offenses.

In 2008, Diaz was found guilty of illegal fights between animals under ORC 959.15, a fourth degree misdemeanor. His punishment was a $250.00 fine and court costs.

Diaz plead to and was found guilty of 11 counts related to cockfighting, animal cruelty/neglect, and possessing criminal tools.

Under a separate case number, Diaz plead no contest to an additional violation of the city’s urban farming law in relation to this case.

Judge Adrine sentenced Diaz to serve 6 months in jail, with an additional 1200 days suspended. Diaz must pay costs and complete 5 years of active probation, during which time he cannot possess any animals and must allow random inspections by the APL.

The birds were all rehabilitated.

cockfighting pit ohiocockfighting spurs ohiofighting bird ohio

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Dog beater convicted of animal cruelty in Cleveland

State v. William Congress, a case we prosecuted for the Cleveland APL in the Cleveland Municipal Court.

On Christmas Day, 2013, Congress sent a disturbing Facebook instant message to his roommate, who was out of town visiting family over the holidays. He admitted to beating the roommate’s dog, Caesar, because the dog damaged the floor of the apartment. The dog sustained bruises, cuts and a broken leg, requiring surgery.

Unfortunately, the roommate, a key witness in the case, fled to California without a forwarding address, and could not be summoned for trial. 

Congress entered a plea of no contest and was found guilty of one count of companion animal cruelty, a first degree misdemeanor. If he commits another such offense, it will be a felony. Congress is prohibited from possessing or owning any animals for 5 years, must complete a course in anger management and 200 hours of community service, and must pay $1500 restitution for veterinary costs. Congress may serve 6 months in jail if he violates these terms.

Caesar recovered fully and has been placed in a permanent home.

congress dog

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Pellet gun dog shooter convicted in Brunswick

State v. David Scott, a case we prosecuted for the Brunswick Hills Police Department.
Dog with gunshot
David Scott shot and killed a dog named Patches with a pellet gun. Patches was trespassing on his property, but the dog was at least 60 feet away from him and was in the act of departing the property. Scott claims that the dog was fighting with his own dog who was tethered just prior to the shooting. The officer examined Scott’s dog and saw no evidence of injuries.

Scott was found guilty of Injuring Animals, a 2nd degree misdemeanor.

This case presented some difficulties for a number of reasons. Generally, one cannot be convicted of an animal cruelty offense if the act was deemed to be “necessary” or “justifiable.” We knew that some people might find the shooting justifiable as a means for preventing future trespasses, especially since the weapon was a pellet gun, not a more powerful firearm. Pellet guns can be lethal, as in in this case, where the pellet penetrated the dog’s abdomen.

Defendant was fined $500 and was ordered to pay restitution to the owner of Patches.

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WCPN 90.3 Hosts Discussion on Goddard’s Law

Today Mike McIntyre of WCPN 90.3’s program The Sound of Ideas hosted a discussion on Goddard’s Law, Ohio H.B. 274. Attorney J. Jeffrey Holland, who drafted the initial Bill, was a featured guest.

Courtesy of WCPN 90.3, this program can be heard using the player below.

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Goddard’s Law Summary – Ohio Animal Cruelty Bill

Here is a summary of proposed Ohio House Bill 274: Holland & Muirden’s Summary of Goddard’s Law

“M” stands for misdemeanor.
“F” stands for felony.

In the state of Ohio, misdemeanors and felonies are categorized by degrees. Punishments for each degree are limited by Ohio law.

A felony of the fifth degree carries a maximum prison sentence of 6-12 months with a maximum fine of $2,500.

For a misdemeanor of the first degree, the highest degree of misdemeanor violation, offenders are not to serve more than six months in jail with a maximum fine of $1,000.

A second degree misdemeanor is punishable by up to 90 days in jail and a maximum fine of $750.

If passed, Ohio’s most serious animal cruelty crimes will be a felony on a first offense. Please write or call your Ohio Representative and Ohio State Senators and let them know that you want this law to pass.

House Bill No. 274 (aka “Goddard’s Law”; Introduced 9/30/13)
Sponsors: Representatives Bill Patmon (D-10) and Barbara Sears (R-47)
Cosponsors: Representatives Barnes, Cera, Lundy
Current Status: Introduced in the Ohio House on 9/30; Assigned to House Judiciary Committee on 10/1

Summary: To amend sections 959.131, 959.132, and 959.99 of the Revised Code to revise provisions and penalties regarding treatment of companion animals and to revise the definition of “companion animal” in the Offenses Relating to Domestic Animals Law.

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