In Ohio, no matter if someone tortures an animal, shoots an animal, hangs an animal, or has trouble feeding their pet after losing their job, the animal cruelty charge will be the same. A misdemeanor.
According to Sunday’s NewsandSential.com, Washington County Dog Warden Kelly McGilton would like to see animal cruelty become a felony in Ohio.
Ohio’s lax laws on animal cruelty place the state 34th in the Animal Legal Defense Fund 2012 U.S. Animal Protection Laws Rankings. It took years and a tremendous outpouring of support before Nitro's Law finally passed to make animal cruelty a felony for kennel owners, operators and employees.
As dog warden, McGilton sees the different types of abuse, and does not believe the law should be the same for all circumstances.
Consider the case of Alicia Fryman, a Marietta woman who bred boxer dogs. "When she didn't feel a use for them anymore because they didn't breed, she would shove two or three in a crate at a time...and not feed them,” McGilton said of Fryman. “She let them die."
Fryman was charged with 11 second-degree misdemeanor animal cruelty charges. She was sentenced to 15 weekends in jail and cannot own animals during her probation.
In another case, Phillip McClay brutally killed a stray cat. The Barlow man beat the cat, broke its neck, and as if that wasn’t enough, he then hanged then shot the cat. McClay, too, was charged with a second-degree misdemeanor.
These are the types of cases which McGilton believes should be tried as a felony. Referring to Fryman, McGilton adds "Somebody like that, I would like to see them not be allowed to own an animal for the rest of her life."
Then there is the case is that of Vicki Gray, a hoarder who kept more than 70 animals in deplorable conditions at her home.
McGilton said of Gray, "She was a hoarder. She didn't want to hurt those animals. And she was living in just as bad of conditions as they were." Gray was convicted of three second-degree misdemeanors.
Treating all animal abusers the same does not make sense, said McGilton. But under current Ohio law, that is what happens.
McGilton would also like to see the law changed to determine whether an act was willfully cruel, such as McClay's, or due to underlying mental instability, as in the case of Gray.
Note: Photo above is of Duke, a young male boxer mix listed as URGENT at the Humane Society of the Ohio Valley in Marietta. Please contact them at 740-373-5959 if you would like to adopt Duke.
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