Goddard’s Law: Animal Abuse now a felony in Ohio

Goddard’s Law was signed into law on September 13, 2016.  After five years in the works.  Which is great news for all of us that work in animal rescue.  The government is finally stepping up to the plate. Now felony offenses for animal abuse are not just for kennel owners and employees.

Goddard’s Law

Goddard’s Law: Animal Abuse now a felony in Ohio
Goddard’s Law: Animal Abuse now a felony in Ohio

“My passion for animals has only increased over the years. I’m proud to speak for those who cannot speak for themselves. We need to stiffen our laws for the mistreatment of companion animals. We need to bring Ohio into the 21st century.” – Dick Goddard

Goddard’s Law raises the charges in animal abuse cases from a misdemeanor of the first degree to a fifth degree felony.  The law is named after a beloved weather anchor, and animal rights activist, Dick Goddard of WJW Channel 8 in Cleveland. Under this new law, anyone that knowingly harms a companion animal will be charged with a fifth degree felony.  The lowest level felony recognized by Ohio law.  Along with a fine of $2,500 and six months of jail time.  Included in “knowingly harms”, the bill designates that withholding food, water or shelter from companion animals is considered abuse as well.

The law also requires that Ohio veterinarians use their expertise to determine whether a pet owner is using their animals to obtain opioids for themselves, or sale. Along with prison sentences for anyone who assaults a law enforcement animal, in any way that cause the animal’s death.

Nitro’s Law

Goddard’s Law also leaves intact Nitro’s Law, which was passed in 2013.  Which makes it a fifth degree felony for any dog kennel owner, or employee, to cause harm to a companion animal.  Including knowingly torture, torment, mutilate or main, cruelly beat, poison, needlessly kill or otherwise commit an act of cruelty against a companion animal left in their care.  It also includes depriving a companion animal of necessary and sufficient good food and water, along with access to shelter.  Nitro’s Law also made animal cruelty any act or omission that causes unnecessary or unjustifiable pain or suffering to companion animals a misdemeanor of the first degree.  Even on the first offense.

Goddard’s Law was much needed.  Dog kennel owner’s and employees are not the only ones these law apply to.  Anyone who harms a companion animal, should be subject to the harsher charges, and jail time.

Federal Animal Bill

In May 2016, a federal animal cruelty bill was brought to the House floor. The FBI has also started a federal database to keep track of criminals engaging in animal abuse crimes.  It seems like they work in conjunction with local law enforcement to keep it up to date.

Let’s hope that now all of the states and the federal government will start cracking down harder.  Mainly on things that are not yet truly considered animal abuse by the current laws.  Such as, 24 hour tethering of animals.

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