Animal Abuse Fight: Finalizing Plans for ‘Goddard’s Law’

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CLEVELAND -- The push continues to increase the penalties for animal abusers in Ohio where Goddard's Law is slowly moving towards a committee hearing in Columbus.

"There are thousands and thousands and thousands of folks who are encouraged by what we have done thus far and we are only able to get this done with their help," said State Representative Bill Patmon, D-Cleveland.

Rep. Patmon is working with FOX 8's Dick Goddard and the Public Animal Welfare Society, or PAWS Ohio, to pass tougher animal cruelty laws in the state.

"Way overdue! Way, way overdue," said Amy Beichler from PAWS.  "[In] Ohio - we're one of three left that has not done this. So it's time; it is time."

On Tuesday, they met to finalize plans for the bill that will be introduced in Columbus.

"We're headed in the right direction and we'll hope that things do change," said Dick Goddard, who has devoted most of his 50-year career at WJW-TV to educating the community about animal-related causes.

"If this passes and the worst kind of cruelty occurs where an animal is either killed because of animal cruelty or it has serious physical harm, then it will be a felony," said Jeff Holland, an attorney who is involved in animal abuse cases in courtrooms throughout Ohio.

Right now in Ohio, most cases are first-degree misdemeanors and punishable with little to no time in jail.

"This is the kind of thing that we've been lacking in Ohio that the rest of the country has recognized for a long, long time," said Holland.  "Animal cruelty leads to human cruelty and all kinds of other kinds of bad behaviors, felony laws are really important."

According to Rep. Patmon, the next step is a committee assignment in Columbus which could happen later this year or in early 2014.

At that time, Dick Goddard will be the key witness to convince others that animal abuse penalties in Ohio aren't severe enough.

"Yea, I can't wait to hear what I'm gonna say but I'm not gonna hold anything back," said Goddard.

Supporters of the legislation are encouraging every concerned Ohioan to contact their local legislator and urge them to learn more about the bill.

To find your representative, CLICK HERE.

To read more about Goddard's Law, CLICK HERE.