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An Explanation of Goddard’s Law

November 16, 2016 | Written by Dan Margolis

Ohio has taken a harsher stance when it comes to cruelty to household pets. Goddard’s Law is the informal name for Ohio House Bill 60, as reported by the Sandusky Register. The focus of this law is to increase punishment for abuse to animals, specifically companion animals. Violations may only be charged as misdemeanors, but prosecutors do have the option of bumping up charges to the felony level.

The bill was named for Dick Goddard. Goddard is known for his compassion and work for animal rights. He attended hearings and testified to help gain the needed support to push the bill through both houses of the Ohio legislature, which was finally successful after failed attempts.

As noted by Cleveland.com, the law also opens doors for veterinarians by assisting them with identifying and reporting owners who may be using their pets to obtain opioids. This is included as a way to assist the state’s battle against drugs.

An important distinction of the law is that even pet store owners can be held liable under it because dogs, cats and other animals are kept there before going home with a family. The bill excludes livestock because earlier versions of the bill had trouble passing due to objections from the agricultural community. It is also worth knowing that violations of Goddard’s law would carry the possibility of a fine up to $2,500 and six to 12 months in prison. Causing serious physical harm, such as not providing adequate shelter, food or water, to a pet is a fifth-degree felony.

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