I-Team: COVID-19 delaying new increased penalties under Goddard’s Law

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CLEVELAND (WJW) — The FOX 8 I-Team has found the COVID-19 outbreak holding up a push to get more justice in Ohio for abused animals, tougher penalties under Goddard’s Law.

That law took effect four years ago, named after legendary FOX 8 weathercaster and animal activist Dick Goddard, to protect pets.

Months ago, we reported on a drive to add the possibility of more prison time for people convicted under Goddard’s Law.

We investigated what’s going on with this now, and we found changes in the law are being held up by the same thing holding up so much in our daily lives, COVID-19.

State Sen. Sean O’Brien, a lawmaker from Northeast Ohio, is leading the push for more penalties.

He says lawmakers held hearings, and they lined up more. Then the COVID-19 outbreak shut down the state capitol.

He says things are slowly starting to move in Columbus again, and he wants this moving again, too.

“We’re starting to move toward more sessions, more committee hearings,” O’Brien said. “So it’s our hope that this bill will get out of the Senate here, pretty shortly.”

Just a few  years ago, in Ohio, punishment in cases like these was a little more than what you see for a traffic ticket. Goddard’s Law made the crimes a felony with a chance at a little prison time. The new law would make these crimes higher level felonies with a chance for ‘more’ prison time.

We’ve shown you people calling 911 for suspected dog fighting, introduced you to a woman angry after she said an ex-boyfriend killed a kitten, and more.

And investigators tell us, people ask about Goddard’s Law at every crime scene involving animals.

“If you hurt an animal, you’re more likely to hurt a human being,” O’Brien added.

O’Brien points out, it’s hard to argue against protecting pets.

He expects what Goddard started will become a stricter law, perhaps by the end of the year.

Animal abuse hasn’t stopped, but neither has the fight to make the abusers pay with more hard time.

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