Butler County Sheriff Richard K. Jones announced that he is in favor of altering Ohio’s law to make cruelty to animals a felony offense rather than a second degree misdemeanor. As it stands, animal cruelty in Ohio is punishable by 90 days in jail at most.
Jones took over the official duties of dog warden on Sept. 29, when the Butler County Dog warden’s office and the sheriff’s office joined together. A recent case involving an emaciated and abandoned white pit bull in Middletown pushed Jones to call for tougher animal cruelty laws.
Demonstrators outside of the courtroom displayed their discontent toward the leniency of the current law. Jones agrees that the maximum of 90 days in jail is not enough of a penalty for those who abuse and neglect pets dependent on them.
The sheriff is supporting HB 274, currently under consideration. If HB 274 passes, it will make animal cruelty a fifth-degree felony to torture, injure or kill a companion animal or deprive it of water, food or shelter. Those convicted could receive six months to a year in jail, bringing Ohio’s law up to par with that of other states. A letter about the issue was sent on Tuesday to Ohio legislators, with copies to the Buckeye State Sheriffs’ Association and the Public Animal Welfare Society (PAWS).