Rally at statehouse to toughen penalties for animal abuse and ne - WFMJ.com News weather sports for Youngstown-Warren Ohio

Rally at statehouse to toughen penalties for animal abuse and neglect

COLUMBUS, Ohio -- A rally at the statehouse in Columbus was held in support of a proposed law that would stiffen the punishment when it comes to kennel owners charged with animal cruelty.

A disturbing case right here in the Valley was the catalyst for the proposed change in the law.

People from as far away as Michigan took a stand, bringing their animals and displaying signs that read "stop the abuse" as they rallied to support House Bill 108 or what's more commonly known as Nitro's Law.

Nitro was a three-year-old rottweiler who starved to death along with seven other dogs at the High Caliber K-9 kennel on Coitsville-Hubbard Road in Youngstown back in 2008.

The man responsible was convicted of four misdemeanors.

Liz Raab was Nitro's owner and she traveled from New York on Wednesday to attend the rally in Columbus.  She's determined to stiffen the punishment for animal abuse and neglect.  Raab cried as she told 21 News it didn't have to happen,  "Just to let them suffer horrifically and die, three years later it's still not any better, it still hurts just as much."

Valley lawmakers Bob Hagan and Ron Gerberry introduced the Nitro's Law legislation and are trying for a second time to pass the bill so it can become law.  In September it passed a House committee but has not made it to the House floor.

Representative Gerberry says, "It says now that if you knowingly abuse, neglect or starve an animal in a kennel that's licensed by the State of Ohio a prosecutor would have the right to prosecute you with a fifth degree felony."

Those who rallied for Nitro's Law are thankful for all the work Valley lawmakers Gerberry and Hagan have done on the bill, but they're appalled that Ohio is among the most lenient in the nation when it comes to animal cruelty laws.

Representative Hagan says the laws should be more severe, "It's embarrassing that we would be in the bottom 10 of all the states in protecting animals."

The lawmakers hope the proposal will be approved in both the House and Senate and then signed in to law by 2012.

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