Make animal cruelty a felony

In 2008, the tragedy of the High Caliber K-9 Training Center should have been enough to raise the anger of Ohio citizens, as well as our legislators, when seven dogs were murdered by starvation, thirst and exposure as the owner/trainer failed to care for the dogs placed in his custody by trusting families.

In 2009, after watching Steven Croley get sentenced to four months in jail for “misdemeanor” charges of animal cruelty, Nitro’s family began a long and difficult journey of reliving their loss each time to pass a law that would give Ohio prosecutors the option of a felony charge in these types of cases that would prevent other families from suffering this awful loss.

Is Nitro’s Law on the books? No. Why not? Because the Ohio Senate let it die last year by letting it sit on the Senate president’s desk until Dec. 31. Had our senators in particular mine, Troy Balderson done their job and moved at their constituents’ requests to put Nitro’s Law on the floor for a vote, the tragedy of an owner/trainer starving dogs to death, would now be a felony, instead of misdemeanor charges with a maximum of 90 days in jail for each charge up to 180 days.

Is this justice? This person is facing 70 charges, all misdemeanors, and three dogs are missed by families who don’t know where the dogs are or if they are alive. Please, Ohio voters, don’t let this bill die again this year. It has been brought back to the legislature for the fifth time; for five years our legislature has had the opportunity to do right for the animals and their families, but each year it has failed to do its job.

I have repeatedly emailed and called Sen. Balderson, but to no avail no reply, no call back, not even from his staff I’m nothing but a vote to him. Well, he has never gotten my vote, didn’t get my vote last time, and won’t get it next time.

Wake up, Ohio. We are the laughing stock of this area. Several organizations and groups are working to pass comprehensive animal abuse laws, but they need your help. Get involved. Be a voice for the voiceless and the vote-less. I’m an animal lover, a rescuer, a K-9 foster home and a registered voter. I’m tired of our animals suffering needlessly because my elected officials are doing nothing.

Vivian Stevenson

Stewart, Ohio