'Nitro's Law' dies before going up for Ohio Senate vote

Dogs may be man's best friend, but apparently they don't have enough friends in the Ohio Senate.
Tom Jackson
Dec 22, 2012

Dogs may be man's best friend, but apparently they don't have enough friends in the Ohio Senate.

A bill that could have made it a felony to mistreat kennel dogs died in the Senate Rules Committee this year, even though it enjoyed overwhelming bipartisan support and was supported by all House members from the Sandusky area.

All in all, 2012 was a mixed bag for animal lovers lobbying the Ohio General Assembly.

Lawmakers approved, and Gov. John Kasich signed, a new law regulating large-volume dog-breeding operations in Ohio.

The law dealing with "puppy mills" was sorely needed. Ohio had become a haven for bad operators because dog breeders weren't regulated here, said Karen Minton, Ohio's director for the Humane Society of the U.S.

But Rep. Ron Gerberry's House Bill 108 didn't make it through the legislature, despite backing from the Humane Society and other animal rights supporters.

Gerberry's bill, also known as "Nitro's Law," stems from a 2008 scandal in Youngstown. A dog training facility there neglected and starved 19 dogs it was housing. Eight dogs starved to death, including a Rottweiler named Nitro. The owner was convicted of four misdemeanor charges and served less than four months in jail.

Ohio is one of only five states that don't impose felony charges for animal cruelty, even in particularly horrible cases involving many animals, Minton said.

Since 2009, Gerberry has tried to gain approval on a proposal to allow prosecutors to file felonies in animal cruelty cases at dog kennels, particularly when a case is especially heinous. Prosecutors could still choose to file misdemeanors in such cases.

His latest attempt, House Bill 108, was co-sponsored by Rep. Dennis Murray, D-Sandusky. It passed the House 82-11 on Feb. 15, 2012, with Murray, Rep. Terry Boose, R-Norwalk, Rep. Rex Damschroder, R-Fremont, and Rep. Randy Gardner, R-Bowling Green, all voting in favor.

"You have some people from the darker parts of the state who voted no," Murray said.

The Senate Agriculture Committee approved it 15-0, Gerberry said, but the bill never emerged from the Rules Committee.

Sen. Tom Niehaus, the Senate president, was chairman of Rules.

Niehaus' spokeswoman, Angela Melecka, said the Senate ran out of time.

"The reason it was not heard is we simply didn't have time before the end of this general assembly," she said. "That is the reason it was not taken up for a vote on the Senate floor."

Asked if the Senate really ran out of time on a bill that was approved in February, Murray replied: "It's a bogus excuse. You unfortunately have cavemen in the Senate Republican Caucus who don't want the bill to pass. There are people who just don't support the policy there should be enhanced punishment for mistreatment of animals."

Gerberry said he lobbied hard, right up until the session ended this month, to get his measure to the Senate floor.

He said he doesn't understand why his bill was allowed to die.

"This is not a partisan issue," he said, frustration evident in his voice. "We all love our companion animals. We all think they should not be abused."

But he also plans to try again.

"I will reintroduce the bill in January," Gerberry said.
 

Comments

The Answer Person

I bet if it involved guns that would be all over it.

Floyd P

This is a rotten shame, the bill has been floating around all year. Kasich can get a law passed to carry a gun on state building parking lots, but they ran out of time on this bill. In other words, not important enough, we gotta get on with Christmas vacation. Meanwhile, expect the abusing to continue by these lowlifes. Good luck in January Rep Gerberry, now you get to start all over again.

reporter54

It has been my experience that animals don't mean much to people in Ohio. If the neighbor has a cat, they don't feed it. If they have a dog, they leave it chained up outside all alone day in and day out. It doesn't surprise me that the politicians don't give a damn.

BEHAPPY

People have no idea how much animal abuse is going on in Ohio~it's pathetic! A politician is a politician and that's it. I have no faith whatsoever in ANY of them anymore. Ohio is so lax when it comes to helpless, loving animals. HORRIBLE things are being done to them every hour of every day and these "people" let this law die. The type of people running this state/country amaze me more everyday. Seems to me anyone can do anything they feel like doing in Ohio. Ohio sickens me in more ways than one anymore. The helpless cannot defend themselves. "People" should learn from our "animals"~they would never behave like some "humans" do today~here is proof some "humans" have no heart! Sad, sad news today.

sanduskysteve

Too bad animals don't vote - - - - - -

nosey rosey

Niehaus' spokesperson is lying. The Senator himself said that the reason HE did not send the bill to the floor was because he was concerned that this bill is treating crimes for animal abuse harsher than penalties for child abuse which is the truly bogus reason. That one person can decide what our elected officials will or will not vote on just shows how backwards our political system has become.

Blowfish

Is that true? What crime of abuse that leaves a child seriously injured or dead is a misdemeanor.

queenjhb

unbelieveable..... wow, I really thought it would make it. Some animal breeders and livestock owners will be relieved. You can do just about anything to an animal, abuse ,neglect it , breed it over & over it horr orble conditions , stuff it in confined pins where it cant even turn around. Sorry, just hurts is all.

44846GWP

I would like a list of law makers who did not support this bill! Then we all flood them with calls, letters, and e-mails!

BEHAPPY

Senator Niehaus was the main problem in this decision~what NOSEYROSY said is fact. Start with an e-mail to him and all of the Senators!

nosey rosey

No need to e-mail Senator Niehaus, he was also a lame duck and knew that he was leaving the senate and would not be held accountable next election.

BEHAPPY

Figures~typical behavior. Still could use a few nasty e-mails~not that it would bother his cold heart any

SamAdams

As usual, politicians have managed to leave me utterly disgusted yet again. What's even worse is that this is OUR fault, at least collectively speaking.

We complain about politics as usual, but then go to the polling places and elect the usual politicians. In some cases, we can't be bothered to vote at ALL, or if we do, we vote straight ticket because we're too lazy to educate ourselves on issues and/or candidates.

Okay, Niehaus is a lame duck. Good. Sounds like he's one politician that NEEDED to leave. But there's a full slate of others who will be back in Columbus after the start of the New Year. Yes, voters should be more responsible, but so should those whom they elect. While it's a politician's job to uphold the Constitution and represent a constituency, it's OUR job to make sure they do theirs. Politicians have no excuse for falling down on the job. What's OUR excuse for the failure to do OUR job, eh?

Sharpen those pencils, boys and girls, and loosen up those dialing fingers. Political irresponsibility and/or mealfeasance stops HERE provided we step on the brakes and don't let up until our representatives actually uphold their oath of office and stand for freedom and justice.

Or are some of you just as bad as the folks you elected???

camero

U can't say people in ohio don't like animals #54 there are lots of loving animal parents in ohio i have 6 dogs that are happy and healthy its just the political sceen if they can't make $ on it they don't care

nosey rosey

The group has also started a national petition to send to the Federal goverment. It's worth a shot.
https://petitions.whitehouse.gov...

BEHAPPY

THANK YOU! I will surely sign! I still can't believe they let this one go!

44846GWP

I took a shot at it, hope it works!

mdsmeck

Where is this comment coming from "Niehaus' spokeswoman, Angela Melecka, said the Senate ran out of time."??? Clearly, anyone that was following the bill or had anything to do with it knew that Niehaus and the Rules and Reference Committee had 8 months to bring HB108/Nitro's Law to a full senate vote and refused to do so...It was eligible in May, 2012 and after daily phone calls, emails and letters from supporters to Niehaus' office and that of other members of the Rules and Reference Committee, it just sit idle...

By the way, there is a direct quote from Senator Niehaus in the vindy.com article that spells out the WHY he would not bring it to a vote and this is from 12/13/12 - http://www.vindy.com/news/2012/d... - "Senate President Tom Niehaus, a Republican from New Richmond, said Wednesday he does not intend to bring up the bill before the end of the lame duck session. The chamber’s last voting session of the year could be today.

“I have concerns with the bill,” Niehaus said. “I continue to look at it, but I don’t expect it to come up. ... We appear to treat abuse of animals and penalize people more for that than we do for the abuse of children. And I think that just doesn’t make any sense.”

Hmmm...Wonder what he thinks happens to a person that starves a child to death??? Much more than a 5th degree felony...