Bill to make animal abuse a felony loses teeth - 21 News Now, More Local News for Youngstown, Ohio -

Bill to make animal abuse a felony loses teeth

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YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio - A Youngstown-inspired bill, that would give prosecutors the right to charge animal abusers with a felony, has been bounced around as legislation for nearly five years and has once again hit a barrier.

State Rep. Ron Gerberry wants to make animal abuse a more serious crime. His attempts have gained bipartisan support but have failed to become law.

"There are some very, very influential senators who do not want to see a felony provision for mistreatment of companion animals," said Gerberry. "There are some senators that just don't believe we should do that."

Most recently, the proposed bill passed the house unanimously but lost it's teeth in the Senate when the bill was amended.

"When they amended it they didn't take the language of House Bill 90 and put it in the budget," said Gerberry. "They tried to accomplish it with another form of wording and when they did that there was a real question if in fact a prosecutor could prosecute someone for dehydrating or starving an animal."

The bill called "Nitro's Law" is named after a dog that died in 2008 from neglect at a kennel in Coitsville Township.

Since then, the bill has already been compromised, it no longer will punish all animal abusers with a felony charge, but only kennel owners and their employees.

The executive director of Animal Charity fears if the wording in the proposed law isn't clearly stated animal abusers may slip through, like she sees now.

"A lot of your abandonment, your food water and shelter, things like that, those kinds of laws they are up for interpretation by who ever reads them," said Talia Musolino with Animal Charity. "They're just not written very precisely wording wise."

The amended bill is currently getting another review by the Senate.

Gerberry is hopeful a revision in the bills wording will achieve at least some of the goals they set out to accomplish. He fears if not, the bill will ultimately die and justice for animals like Nitro will never be served.

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