Ohio state animal abusers – you have been warned. No longer will acts of animal cruelty be met with a simple slap on the wrist or a paltry fine. Thanks to the passing of Goddard’s Law, aka House Bill 60, which went into effect on Tuesday, September 13, animal cruelty to a pet (companion animal) is now considered to be a felony.
On June 13, House Bill 60 was signed by Ohio Governor John Kasich. The website for the Ohio House of Representatives notes that Goddard’s Law was named after long-time Cleveland weatherman, Dick Goddard, who passionately advocated for strengthening penalties for animal abuse.
State Representative Steve Hambley commented after voting in favor of Goddard’s Law:
“As a former county commissioner, I worked closely with our county humane society, and regularly saw the effects of animal abuse firsthand, I am proud to vote in favor of Goddard’s Law, which will show the country that Ohio takes animal abuse seriously, as well as providing increased oversight of the prosecution of these serious cases.”
Goddard’s Law makes it a fifth degree felony to knowingly cause serious physical harm to a companion animal, which is defined as activities involving a substantial risk of death, a partial or permanent incapacity, long-term pain, or deprivation of food, water and shelter.
NBCi News reports that individuals found guilty of animal cruelty will not only pay a hefty fine, but they will also face time (at least six months) in prison. Also included in the law is mandatory prison time for anyone who attacks a police dog or horse, causing fatal injuries.
Neglect or abuse of a companion animal is known to be an indication and/or predictor of human abuse. The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) has noted the link between animal cruelty issues and neglect/abuse to other people:
Animal abuse in the form of neglect is often one of the first indicators of distress in the household. Whether owing to lack of empathy, mental illness, or substance abuse, a person who fails to provide minimal care for the family pet is more likely to neglect the basic needs of other dependents in the household. In many cases, children found living among the squalor of neglected pets are taken into foster care.
HSUS has also commented on the importance of punishing individuals who commit crimes against animals:
Reporting, investigating, and prosecuting animal cruelty can help take dangerous criminals off the streets. Police know that in homes where animal abuse is a problem, other issues are often concurrent. Acts of animal cruelty are linked to a variety of other crimes, including violence against people, property crimes, and drug or disorderly conduct offenses.
Read more about animal cruelty and human violence here.