A bill that bites back

The Friends of the Highland County Dog Pound have submitted supporting testimony to the Senate Judiciary Committee regarding Sentate Bill 205 for a Feb. 26 hearing in Columbus.

It is important legislation for pet lovers. SB 205 redefines what constitutes serious physical injury inflicted on a companion animal and generally increases the penalty for knowingly causing serious physical injury to a companion animal from a first degree misdemeanor to a third degree felony. It also increases the penalty for knowingly and needlessly killing a companion animal from a first degree misdemeanor to a third degree felony. And, it creates a new prohibition against anyone who promotes or abets serious physical injury to or needlessly killing a companion animal, making it a fourth degree felony.

The group felt compelled to speak up on behalf of the dogs we have helped, the dogs we have lost and the dogs that broke our hearts in the aftermath of pain and violence suffered at the hands of malicious monsters. In addition to clarifying what constitutes extreme cruelty toward companion animals and giving law enforcement some muscle in response to it, SB 205 provides at least some penalty, some real retribution in response to unspeakable cruelty.

Nothing will destroy faith in your fellow man like working with companion animals that have been abandoned, beaten, starved, taped, tied, flogged, shot or thrown out like garbage by individuals who should have been responsible for their welfare. Nothing will test your faith in God like seeing an arrow sticking out of a dog’s eye, knowing someone’s aim was deliberate. And nothing creates fury and frustration like knowing these perpetrators will never answer for their unforgivable actions.

SB 205 is essential legislation for the kitten drop-kicked in the face like a football, for the hound imprisoned in a 15-inch cage, for the starving pointers, for all the dogs so traumatized by human contact they’re too terrified to stand or move. But, it is also essential legislation for the decent human beings in our community who love their animals and cherish the special bond that has existed between us for centuries. We count on our companion animals for loyalty, love and laughter, but they count on us for everything. Everything. It is not enough to cry when we see their terrible wounds or bury them. If we cannot protect our companion animals from the horror of human behavior, we can at least enact legislation to penalize it.

Anyone interested in information on the proposed bill, including sponsors, co-sponsors and summaries, can visit https://www.legislature.ohio.gov/legislation/legislation-summary?id=GA133-SB-205.

Pat Lawrence