This year, the FBI began tracking
animal cruelty offenders the same way they track top-tier felonies. Animal lovers everywhere lauded this move, but it's main goal is to provide data
. It doesn't directly impact punishments for animal cruelty related crimes.
All 50 states have laws that can lead to felony charges for animal cruelty cases, however, the nature of the charges varies based on circumstances. In many cases, currently including Ohio, first offenders are only brought up on misdemeanor charges.
But Ohio lawmakers are changing that with Goddard's Law
Named after local weatherman and animal activist Dick Goddard
, Ohio House Bill 60
, makes knowingly causing harm to a pet a fifth-degree felony.
Lora Dunn of the Animal League Defense Fund
This is a significant change that recognizes the serious danger of perpetrators who subject animal victims to prolonged suffering, be it by active physical abuse or leaving an animal to die slowly by starvation.
As she notes, the bill doesn't simply include acts of physical violence. It also includes circumstances of neglect, like denying a pet food, shelter, and water.
Cases that fall into this category will be punishable with a $2,500 fine and up to a year in jail. The bill has passed both the House and the Senate, but requires Ohio's Governor Kasich's signature before it becomes law.
Feature image via ASPCA.