Most of us would consider our pets members of our family. Even wild or farm animals are clearly living, breathing creatures and therefore have certain inherent needs — for food, shelter, physical and emotional safety, to name a few. That’s why it comes as such a shock that under Ohio law, animals are not protected from violent abuse the way every living thing should be. In this state, only specific offenses are categorically defined as “violent crimes,” and animal cruelty is not one of them. As a result, clear abusers — who have mangled, tortured, and murdered beloved pets — often get away with probation, community service, and a mere 60 days in a county jail.
This was the case with a man who, in 2018, was found guilty of murdering multiple cats and kittens, 14 of whose bodies were found stored in his freezer at home. Their corpses were ravaged with stabbing wounds, bruises from being punched, lung damage from drownings, and broken bones from being thrown against walls. But his sentence was just three years of probation. Abusers like this often go on to commit more violent crimes, following a pattern of escalation — research even shows that violence against animals frequently leads to violence against people. But because of the way the law is now, Ohio judges and prosecutors could not do anything to hold these abusers more accountable even if they wanted to. That’s why the law itself needs to change. Sign the petition to demand that this ridiculous loophole is closed. Demand that Ohio lawmakers reclassify animal cruelty as what it truly is — a “violent offense!”