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Ohio Animal Law

Right to Register Service Dogs in Ohio Pursuant to the ADA

The Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) is a federal law that gives the overall structure and intent for the elimination of discrimination against individuals with disabilities.

The ADA defines a service animal as any guide dog, signal dog, or other animal individually trained to provide assistance to an individual with a disability. If they meet this definition, animals are considered service animals under the ADA regardless of whether they have been licensed or certified by a state or local government.

Pursuant to the ADA, if you are not certain that an animal is a service animal, you may only ask the person who has the animal if the animal is required because of a disability and what work or task the animal has been trained to perform. Documentation, such as proof that the animal has been certified, trained, or licensed as a service animal cannot be required.

While the ADA does not override other federal laws, it will override state or local laws that provide less protection or benefit. However, if a state or local law provides more protection or greater benefit, it will override the ADA.

Ohio requires that all dogs be licensed, including service dogs.

Ohio Revised Code section 955.011(A) states that “[w]hen an application is made for registration of an assistance dog and the owner can show proof by certificate or other means that the dog is an assistance dog… certificates and tags stamped ‘Ohio Assistance Dog-Permanent Registration,’ with registration number, shall be issued…” and further, in (B)(3) that “’Assistance dog’ means a guide dog, hearing dog, or service dog that has been trained by a nonprofit special agency.”

This language in the Revised Code conflicts with protections specifically afforded by the ADA.

First, that an assistance dog may only be trained by a nonprofit special agency. Pursuant to the ADA, there is no requirement that a service animal be trained by a nonprofit agency, just that it be individually trained.

Second, that proof by certificate or other means is required for the issuance of assistance dog tags. Pursuant to the ADA, if you are not certain that an animal is a service animal, you may only ask the person who has the animal if the animal is required because of a disability and what work or task the animal has been trained to perform. Documentation, such as proof that the animal has been certified, trained, or licensed as a service animal cannot be required.

While many Ohio counties simply follow the provisions afforded by the ADA when issuing registration tags, some still wrongly require proof that a service dog was trained by a nonprofit agency.


For more information, contact our offices in Fairlawn and Sharon Center at (877) 239-4480. We help clients resolve dog registration disputes throughout Ohio.

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Eastlake, Ohio residents convicted of animal neglect.

State v. Robert Fatica; State v. Laura Tamura. This is a case we prosecuted in the Willougby Municipal Court for the Lake Humane Society.

Defendants Robert Fatica and Laura Tamura were found guilty of companion animal neglect for keeping 13 cats in their home in Eastlake, Ohio in filthy conditions. The animals were matted, suffering from parasites, severe dermatitis and hair loss.

Fatica is not permitted to possess animals of any kind for 3 years; Tamura for 2 years. Both are subject to random inspections. They must pay a fine, court costs and $1,825 each in restitution to the Humane Society to repay them for the costs of rehabilitating the animals. Each one faces up to 90 days in jail if they fail to comply with the terms of probation.

filthy cat cage
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Willie Powell, Jr. to serve 6 months in Cleveland jail for dog neglect

State v. Willie Powell, Jr., a case we prosecuted for the Cleveland Animal Protective League.

Judge Ronald Adrine sentenced Powell to serve 6 months in jail for the neglect of his four dogs, the maximum penalty for a first degree misdemeanor. Powell was previously convicted of attempted dog fighting in 2002.

In this case, Powell’s four dogs were kept individually in small crates. The crate floors were covered in urine and feces, forcing the dogs to stand in their own excrement. The dogs were also underweight, and many had severely overgrown nails. One dog had an injury to its tail that caused blood to splatter on the walls.

Defendant was found guilty of two counts of companion animal cruelty, and two counts of keeping animals in filthy conditions.

Defendant was sentenced to one and half years in jail, all suspended except for six months. Powell was placed on 5 years of active probation, during which time he cannot own, keep, possess, or reside with any animals, and will be subject to random inspections. Powell must also pay $200 in restitution to the APL.

Powell was taken to jail immediately after sentencing.

doginfilthycratecleveland

filthydogcrateohio

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Owner of suspected cockfighting location convicted of bird neglect

State v. Jose DeJesus, a case we prosecuted for the Cleveland Animal Protective League.

DeJesus was found guilty of three counts of animal neglect related to the care of birds kept on his property.

DeJesus had 80-100 birds on his property, mostly chickens. Most of the birds were being kept in filthy conditions, and without adequate food or water. The birds had nothing to eat except corn and moldy, stale bread. One rooster was euthanized due to severe untreated injuries.

In a shed located at the rear of the property, investigators found cockfighting paraphernalia, including a ring with timer and sparring muffs.

According to DeJesus, a number of unknown people kept birds on his property and cared for them. DeJesus claimed that he never went in the shed.

DeJesus was sentenced to 90 days in jail for each count, all suspended. He was ordered to pay $500 in restitution to the APL, a $500 fine, and court costs. DeJesus will be on probation for 5 years, during which time he is to have no animals, and must submit to random inspections.

moldy bird food ohio

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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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H&M Presents: Ohio Animal Welfare Cruelty & Neglect Investigations: A Legal Perspective

The Humane Society of Greater Dayton hosts:
J. Jeffrey Holland
Holland & Muirden, Attorneys at Law

Join us for an informational session on animal cruelty and neglect laws and cases.

Topics include:
• Ohio’s Primary Animal Cruelty Laws
• Notice of Seizure and the Probable Cause Hearing
• Dog Liability Laws – Civil & Criminal
• Fighting Animals & Other Cruelty Laws
• Penalties for Animal Cruelty
• Search and Seizure
• The Elegant Cruelty Report
• Exotics
• Nitro’s Law
• Legislative Updates
• Being a Better Sleuth
• Vicious and Dangerous Dogs
• Case Law Overview

• Thursday, February 6, 2014
9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
• Friday, February 7, 2014
8:30 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.

Sinclair Community College
Criminal Justice Training Academy
214 S. Wilkinson, Dayton, Ohio 45402

Class size is limited! Ticket Information.
Cost is $100.

For more information, contact Brian Weltge at (937) 262-5928.

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What if…? Ohio pet trusts provide care for animals when their owners can’t.

Have you ever been concerned about what would happen to your pet if something unexpected happened to you? Ohio law now allows pet owners to create a trust to provide for the care and maintenance of pets if the owner can no longer care for them, be it due to death or other incapacitation. This type of trust is protected by statute and is legally enforceable (Ohio Revised Code Section 5804.08). Commonly known as “pet trusts,” these trusts can cover any type of pet (including tarantulas). A pet trust is a legal vessel that describes your wishes regarding the care of your pet and distributes provided funds to enable that care. A pet trust can be created during the owner’s lifetime or created at the time of the owner’s death via a will.

Some important items pet owners should consider when thinking about forming a pet trust:
1. Who will you name as the trustee? What about an alternate? The trustee is the person charged with following the directions set forth in your trust. The trustee may be paid a reasonable fee, or may serve without compensation.

2. Who will be the caretaker for your pets? The caretaker may be the same as or different from the trustee. If the caretaker and trustee are different people, the trustee could have the authority to remove the pets from one caretaker and appoint a new caretaker if the trustee is dissatisfied with their care.

3. Specific instructions you might have for the care of your pets. You may wish to specify whether or not the caretaker should be permitted to allow animals to breed, for instance, or whether they should be kept in a private residence, as opposed to a rescue facility. Typically, a pet owner will give the caretaker wide discretion to provide care in a manner that the caretaker sees fit, in his/her best judgment.

4. The amount you are willing to pay out of the trust to the caretaker for providing care for your animals.

5. The person or organization who will receive any remaining trust assets upon termination of your trust (which should be at the death of the last animal covered by the trust).

Once these items are resolved, you will need to decide what assets (monies, etc.) you are willing to use to fund the trust.

Pet trusts allow you to plan for your pet’s future and ensure that your pet will be cared for in the way you desire. Pet owners can finally create and control the answer to the troubling “what if…?” question and have peace of mind about the care of their pets.

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Pit Bull bans still in effect in Ohio cities – How is BSL legal?

In 2012, Ohio joined 49 states and nearly every country in the world when it removed its breed-specific language from state law. “Pit bull” type dogs were no longer considered “vicious” from birth. Today, the Ohio Revised Code defines a “vicious dog” as a dog that has killed or caused serious injury to any person without provocation.

However, the new law did not overturn municipality pit bull bans, like those in Warrensville Heights, Lakewood, Parma, and Garfield Heights. Other cities, such as Cleveland Heights, label all pit bull type dogs as “vicious” and impose certain keeping requirements on the breed(s).

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.” The new state law did not interfere with home rule, allowing cities to create and enforce breed-discriminatory language.

Breed-discriminatory laws raise questions about the protection of dog owners’ Fourteenth Amendment rights (due process and equal protection). In addition to lawsuits based on constitutional issues, lawsuits have been filed by owners who claim their dog was incorrectly labeled as one of the banned breeds. About half of all dogs in the United States are mixed breeds, making visual breed identification highly inaccurate.

Recently, residents of Ohio towns enforcing breed-specific legislation (BSL) have renewed their fight to overturn these bans and enact breed-neutral laws. Last month, a grassroots group named “Animal Guardians for a Prosperous Parma” began lobbying Parma’s City Council to repeal its long-standing ban on Pit Bulls in favor of breed-neutral dog regulations that place responsibility on reckless owners. Similarly, in Lakewood, citizens have been fighting the city’s Pit Bull ban since it was first enacted in 2008. Voters are considering a petition to put the ordinance on the ballot for the May 2014 election.

In fact, the Centers for Disease Control, which monitors dog bite activity, has commented that discriminatory breed bans are “largely ineffective” and “often a waste of public resources.” The CDC recommends a community-based approach to prevent dog bites. Their message is clear–any dog can bite, regardless of its breed. Educate yourself and your children about dog behavior and proper interactions with dogs, learn to recognize aggressive dog behavior, and properly train your dog by socializing it with people and other animals. Dog bites are best prevented without reliance on inaccurate breed stereotypes.

Read more about this approach via the AVMA here: A community approach to dog bite prevention.

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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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