In a ranking of states done annually by the Animal Legal Defense Fund, Ohio falls near the bottom in terms of its laws on animal cruelty and abuse.
The crimes are misdemeanors here and often don't lead to much, if any, jail time.
We're not taking care of our animals in Ohio and that needs to change.
Some say "it's just an animal." But these are oftentimes defenseless creatures who certainly feel pain and have done nothing to deserve it.
There is concern that more severe consequences for these crimes would overburden an already overburdened legal system. But these are things that must be taken seriously, particularly in cases that exhibit a cruel spirit and penchant for violence. Those are warning signs for a lot of different things.
The people who are capable of these kinds of acts are often unlikely to be an empathetic, caring member of society.
Not every case may deserve a harsh penalty or time behind bars. For example, those who try to take in dozens of animals to rescue them but end up living in poor conditions as a result aren't exhibiting intentional cruelty toward the animals. They still need help and perhaps other consequences but jail or prison likely isn't the answer.
However, in cases where animals are purposefully starved, beaten, abused and killed, there is certainly an argument to be made for felony charges.
Residents of Ohio need to band together and say this is not OK. We need to do more.
Let your legislators know that you want stricter penalties for these types of offenses. Let your local law enforcement and prosecutors know you want the maximum charges and convictions for these crimes in your community.
And if you see an offense, report it immediately. Let's let these offenders know that Ohio does take these crimes seriously.