It will now be a fifth-degree felony to abuse a companion animal in Ohio.
Goddard's Law, named after Dick Goddard, a popular retired meteorologist and animal rights activist in Cleveland, went into effect Sep. 13 and makes it a “first offense” fifth-degree felony to deprive a companion animal of food, water or shelter, reported Fox News. According to Ohio law, a fifth-degree felony can garner a prison sentence of between six and 12 months, but doesn't necessarily require prison time.
Goddard's Law does require prison time for anybody who assaults or kills a police dog, police horse or service animal.
"It's wonderful; if it's the last thing I do of any consequence, I'm thrilled to death for the animals," said Goddard when the bill was signed by Republican Gov. John Kasich of Ohio, reported WJW.
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The legislation was a bipartisan effort and easily passed the Ohio State House by a 92 to 1 vote in June.
Goddard spoke out about what he believes is a need for harsher penalties for those who abuse animals and began campaigning for the bill in March. Previously, most animal abuse crimes in the state were classed as misdemeanors.
The push for tougher animal cruelty laws has been years in the making.
In 2008, a kennel operator in Youngstown, Ohio, severely neglected numerous dogs and starved to death a Rottweiler named Nitro, reported Cleveland.com. This led to animal rights activists fighting for the passage of what became known as “Nitro's Law.”
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Nitro's Law made it a fifth-degree felony for kennel operators to abuse animals and was signed into law in 2013, according to the Gallia Hometown Herald.
Goddard's Law now extends the felony provision to apply to everyone in Ohio.