CLEVELAND -- Time is running out for supporters of a newly proposed animal cruelty law in Ohio called Nitro’s Law or Ohio House Bill 108.
The bill was written for a dog which died while at a kennel.
Nitro was a beautiful Rottweiler raised in a loving family. But during a family crisis, the owners agreed to leave Nitro with a kennel that their breeder recommended.
The trainer’s name was Steven Croley and he ran a kennel and training facility in the Youngstown area.
The family was told it would be like “Puppy Camp” but instead their dog and 7 others were starved to death in 2008.
Since then, the family and thousands of volunteers and supporters have been trying to get stiffer penalties in Ohio for animal cruelty.
Croley was sentenced to 120 days in jail along with probation, during which he was not permitted to own dogs. But his probation ended in January 2012, and he can now own pets and even re-open a kennel.
Mike Smeck says that makes him sick. He is fighting for Nitro’s Law, which would hold kennel ownersm managers and employees accountable for acts of cruelty, abuse and neglect, making it a 5th degree felony.
Nitro’s Law would be a first step toward a felony for major acts of abuse for our companion animals in Ohio,” said Smeck.
Animal cruelty is already a first offense felony in 44 other states. Currently in Ohio, it’s a misdemeanor, but penalties are stiffer for second convictions.
A second offense of torture or maiming carries a felony punishment of 6-12 months in jail and up to a $2500 fine.
But supporters of Nitro’s Law say that’s not enough. Lori Casciani says, “There are a lot of abuse cases. I feel like people do not treat animals with respect.”
She feels that a harsher first offense penalty would be more of a deterrent. The bill has already overwhelmingly passed the Ohio State House but has yet to be heard by the Senate.
Mike Smeck says, “The bill is currently sitting in the rules and reference committee waiting for Senate President Thomas Niehaus to bring it to the floor for a vote.”
If the senate doesn’t vote by mid-December, the bill could die.
“He gets daily calls and emails but refuses to tell us why he won’t bring it for a vote,” said Smeck.
Fox 8 called Mr. Neihaus and were told to contact his press secretary, but so far we haven’t received a comment from his office.
Supporters of Nitro’s Law plan to keep fighting and won’t give up until people who harm animals are properly punished.
“If you actually kill or severely injure a living breathing being that should be a felony,” said Smeck.