One Ohio lawmaker says current penalties for people convicted of cruelty to pets and other companion animals are too lax. His bill would increase punishment for that crime.
Republican State Sen. Jay Hottinger (R-Newark) says first-time animal cruelty offenders can be charged with a fifth degree felony under a law passed in 2016. But he says with newly passed criminal sentencing standards, even those who are convicted often spend no time behind bars.
“If you smack them on the wrist for breaking the necks of puppies, that is not going to bode well for what they are going to do in the future to other animals or people," Hottinger says.
Hottinger says there are cases where animals have been beaten, skinned alive and even nailed to a wall. He says those crimes are so heinous that they demand tough punishment. He's not alone. Hottinger’s bill, Senate Bill 205, has bipartisan support. Sen. Sean O'Brien (D-Youngtown) is its co-sponsor.
The legislation would increase penalties for cruelty to pets to a third-degree felony, with up to 16 months in prison and $10,000 in fines. Hottinger says the bill would not apply to livestock. And Hottinger's legislation would create a new offense for those who aid or abet in the killing or causing serious injury to a companion animal. The penalty for that would be a fourth degree felony. The felonies would not be expungable.
The bill hasn't had a committee hearing yet.