No Ohio Senate action expected on increased penalties for kennel operators

by MARC KOVAC | CAPITAL BUREAU CHIEF Published:

Columbus -- Legislation that would increase criminal penalties against kennel operators who abuse pets in their care is not expected to move out of the Ohio Senate this session.

And the bill's sponsor, who offered the law changes following an incident at Mahoning County kennel, isn't confident Nitro's Law to pass in the new year, either.

House Bill 108, named in memory of a dog that was starved to death at a Youngstown-area business. The Rottweiler was among more than a dozen dogs that were found dead or dying from extreme neglect in 2008 at the High Caliber K-9 kennel on Coitsville-Hubbard Road.

The owner of the business faced a few misdemeanor convictions as a result of the incident and subsequently filed for bankruptcy, avoiding additional civil penalties.

HB 108, sponsored by Rep. Ronald Gerberry, from Austintown, and Rep. Bob Hagan, a Democrat from Youngstown, would make it illegal for kennel owners, managers or employees to abuse or neglect pets in their care. Those found guilty of doing so could face felony charges, and judges could place limitations on their future ability to operate kennels.

HB 108 passed the Ohio House in February and moved through a Senate committee a few months later. But it's languished "below the line" on the Senate calendar, among two dozen-plus bills that either don't have the support for passage or that were amended into other legislation.

Senate President Tom Niehaus, a Republican from New Richmond, said Dec. 12 he does not intend to bring up the bill before the end of the lame duck session.

Niehaus said. "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."

Gerberry, who has pushed for passage of the bill for two sessions, said he will introduce it again next year.

 Marc Kovac is the Dix Capital Bureau Chief.

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