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CLEVELAND, Ohio — Ohio animal rights advocates are upset that state senators left for summer recess without voting on a bill that would strengthen the state’s animal cruelty laws.

“It’s pathetic, the laws in Ohio, and it’s pathetic that our legislators don’t seem to care,” said Mike Smeck, of Nitro’s Foundation.

According to the Humane Society of the United States, Ohio is one of only eight states where the worst acts of animal cruelty are misdemeanors for the first offense.

Ohio animal advocates have been pushing state lawmakers to pass House Bill 108, otherwise known as Nitro’s Law.

Nitro’s Law would allow prosecutors to file felony charges against kennel owners who willfully abuse animals in the most horrific ways.

Smeck fears the bill will time out in the Senate, as it did in 2010.

“Die again, like Nitro. Die at the hands of its trusted trainer,” Smeck said, adding, “At the end of 2012, if it’s not passed, it dies.”

Nitro was a Rottweiler who was starved at a Youngstown boarding kennel, along with 18 other dogs in 2008. Nitro was one of eight dogs who died.

The kennel operator who starved the dogs was convicted of four misdemeanors.

“If you knowingly and intentionally kill this dog, it should be a felony,” Smeck said.

Fox 8 News contacted Senate leaders for a response.

“Senate members wanted more time to consider the legislation, so we decided to allow more time for debate,” Ohio Senate Majority Caucus Press Secretary Angela Meleca said to Fox 8 news in an email statement. “They will return in the fall where we will likely continue discussing the legislation.”