6 months later: Effects of ‘Goddard’s Law’ being felt in Ohio

CLEVELAND - Six months after it become law in Ohio, "Goddard's Law" is already having an impact.

Named for legendary FOX 8 Meteorologist Dick Goddard, the law raised the penalty for abuse of companion animals from a misdemeanor to a felony. In effect, it put teeth into the state's laws when it comes to protecting pets - even for first-time offenders.

"Before 'Goddard's Law'," says Amy Beichler, executive director of Paws Ohio, "an individual who'd never done this before could take an animal...and shoot it, stab it, put it on fire, and the most they'd be charged with was a first-degree misdemeanor. Now, you don't get a pass."

Several people have faced charges under the law. They include a man in Geauga County accused of shooting a neighbor's dog, and a man in Alliance accused of setting his dog on fire (something he denied).

And 20-year-old Deanna Caraballo received a one-year prison sentence from a Cuyahoga County judge after she threw a puppy to the ground during an argument - breaking its neck.

"Would I want something different than a year in prison to be attached? - absolutely," Beichler says. "Obviously, this woman needs some mental intervention, anger management intervention."

But, Beichler adds, the sentence "sent a very strong message across the state of Ohio that this will not be tolerated at all."

The legislation was sponsored by Rep. Bill Patmon of Cleveland, and Beichler says having Dick Goddard's name attached to it certainly helped to get the bill passed into law. "This is his legacy, without question, this is his legacy," Beichler says.

"He testified before committees, he stood there on behalf of the animals, and he was the voice of the animals."