Day after day I write about the horror stories, the neglects and abuses that man inflicts on animals and our canine companions. Sometime I think that people are just getting worse and things will never get better. Judges sentence animal abusers with ‘slap on the wrist’ sentences again and again, most abusers are never identified.

But then, once in a while I look around and see that there are changes coming. People are becoming more and more aware of the horrors of animal abuse and the impact it has and demanding their legislators to do something about it. Laws are changing, slowly but surely. The latest to throw down the gauntlet in that arena is Ohio.

[A] bill before the Ohio House of Representatives would require money from the sale of any equipment or devices confiscated during dogfighting raids, as well as seized cash, to defray an impounding animal shelter’s cost of caring for and euthanizing dogs or chickens used in animal fighting.

House Bill 415 also would stiffen the penalty for dogfighting, making it a higher-degree felony.

“Last year’s multi-state investigation into dogfighting in the southwestern part of the state revealed how widespread this repugnant activity is,” the bill’s sponsors, Rep. John Domenick, D-Smithfield, and Louis W. Blessing Jr., R-Cincinnati, said in testimony last month. “What was largely an investigation into dogfighting also led to the discovery of food stamp fraud, auto theft, illegal firearms and the distribution of narcotics such as crack cocaine.”

Cockfighting would be reclassified as a felony under the bill. Currently it’s a misdemeanor — the “equivalent of a speeding ticket,” the sponsors said, noting only Alabama’s maximum fine is less than Ohio’s.

Another bill targeting animal abuse, House Bill 418, would:

• Increase penalties for animal cruelty.

• Require courts to include pets in protection orders issued for domestic violence victims.

• Require psychological counseling for those under 18 found to be cruel to animals.

That bill is sponsored by Courtney Eric Combs, R-Hamilton, and Brian Williams, D-Akron. (Western-Star)

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