This is HUGE news, GREAT news!
From a press release from the office of Rep. Brian G. Williams:
COLUMBUS – The Ohio House of Representatives today approved a bill sponsored by State Representative Brian G. Williams (D-Akron) designed to protect animals from abuse and stop abusers from continuing their violent ways.
“Current penalties in Ohio for animal cruelty are weak and do little to prevent future acts of violence,” Rep. Williams said. “House Bill 418 is a first step in correcting that glaring discrepancy in our criminal statutes.”
The legislation features several provisions aimed at preventing animal abuse:
• Requires evaluation by professional counselor for any minor convicted of animal cruelty
• If the evaluation recommends counseling, the judge, at his/her discretion, can order such counseling to take place
• Increases the penalty for animal cruelty for a second or subsequent violation from a second-degree misdemeanor (the same penalty for a first violation) to a first-degree misdemeanor
• Enhances penalties for torturing a companion animal (probation in addition to the fifth-degree felony charge for each subsequent conviction)
• Allows court to include companion animals in a petitioner’s residence when issuing civil protection orders
“Research shows that minors who abuse or torture animals not only are more likely to continue that behavior as adults, but will often turn their aggression to humans,” Rep. Williams said. “This bill is a way of ensuring the safety of animals and people alike.”
HB 418, which received unanimous support from the House Criminal Justice Committee, passed the full House today by a vote of 92-1. It now goes to the Ohio Senate for its consideration.