GALLIPOLIS — With the implementation of Goddard’s Law, otherwise called House Bill 60, late last year, the Gallia Dog Warden is reviewing cases of potential animal abuse in Gallia County which may be able to be considered for felony charges due to law modifications.
Gov. John Kasich signed the law in June of last year. According to Gallia County Dog Warden Laurie Cardillo, animal cruelty on a companion animal can be considered a fifth-degree felony in Ohio. Companion animals are considered dogs or cats whether the animals are inside or outside. Any animal kept inside is also considered a companion animal said Gallipolis City Solicitor Adam Salisbury at a previous Gallipolis City Commission meeting.
Cardillo said it’s a matter of time before Gallia sees its first felony animal cruelty case. While a felony conviction has not happened yet, Cardillo said in the past it has not been uncommon for her to find at least one case of suspected animal cruelty within a month’s time. Those cases can sometimes involve several animals.
“This has been something we think was needed in Ohio for a while now and we’re hoping it gets the message out to all the people out there who would starve a dog or something like that,” said Cardillo.
Cardillo said intent needs to be proven for a fifth-degree felony charge to stick. Negligence, if convicted, would result in a lesser misdemeanor charge. Cardillo is anticipated to attend a course surrounding the effects of Goddard’s Law in Clermont County in the coming weeks.
A felony would consist of an individual knowingly causing “serious physical harm” to a companion animal which could consist of depriving pets of water, food, shelter or even causing long-term pain. Fifth-degree felonies in Ohio can have a max of 12 months in prison with a max of $2,500 in fines.
The bill is named for Dick Goddard, a Cleveland weatherman, who has spent considerable effort in making animal abuse penalties stronger in Ohio.
Dean Wright can be reached at at 740-446-2342, ext. 2103.