Target: Ohio Governor John Kasich
Goal: Strengthen and enforce Ohio’s animal cruelty laws
A recent incident involving a dog that was tied to a tree and shot has raised concerns among animal rights groups in Ohio that animal cruelty laws in the state are still too lenient despite the passing of a new bill that allows first-time animal cruelty offenders to be charged with a felony. Animal cruelty laws will remain moot if they aren’t held to the same standard as other laws and this must be changed immediately.
Cleveland resident Raymone Clements tied his bullmastiff to a tree in Forest Hill Park in Cleveland Heights and shot the dog in the jaw and chest, then left it for dead. Fortunately the dog, Forrest, has made a successful recovery after being rescued. Clements, the man who shot him, received a prison sentence of 23 years. Sadly, however, he was sentenced on firearms charges. He was never convicted of animal cruelty. Clements received a longer prison term than he would have for animal cruelty because he was in possession of a gun and bullets, which is prohibited because he is a felon with prior convictions for rape, drug trafficking, and aggravated burglary.
While it is a good thing that he received such a severe sentence for the crime, and animal rights groups are happy about that, the conviction is also an indictment of Ohio’s animal cruelty laws. The act of cruelty completely ignored in the trial. Possessing a firearm carried a stronger penalty than torturing a living being and leaving it for dead. If he hadn’t tortured Forrest using a gun he wouldn’t have received a sentence at all. This is all in spite of Ohio’s new, and supposedly stronger, animal cruelty laws that make it possible to charge a first-time offender with a fifth-degree felony. The term “felony” sounds powerful, but in reality a fifth-degree felony does not carry a mandatory prison sentence and can easily be plea-bargained down to a first-degree misdemeanor, which carries at most a small fine and probation. Torturing an animal is considered the same as the theft of not more than $300.
The new law also doesn’t take into account other forms of cruelty, such as neglect or taking so many animals that they cannot be cared for properly. Those who abuse animals often move on to abusing other humans. Clements is a perfect example of this, given his arrest record. If Ohio expects to eliminate animal abuse or reduce violent crime, its animal cruelty laws must carry a mandatory prison sentence and be given equal consideration. At no point should the possession of a firearm take precedence over a life that heinously tortured and left for dead. Please sign the petition below to demand that Ohio strengthen its animal cruelty laws and make this a reality.
Dear Governor Kasich,
Despite Ohio’s new and “improved” animal cruelty laws, Raymone Clements of Cleveland tied a dog to a tree, shot it several times, and left it for dead without being convicted of animal cruelty. The act of cruelty wasn’t even acknowledged in the trial.
Sadly, Clements received a 23-year prison sentence for possession of a firearm, which is more than he would have received for animal cruelty. A life was tortured and nearly taken. If you expect your state to end animal cruelty, and subsequently reduce violent crime against other humans, animal cruelty must be treated with equal consideration and also carry a mandatory prison sentence. I demand that you revise your new animal cruelty laws to ensure that such a horrible act of cruelty will no longer be allowed to be ignored.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: Tonyagc via Flickr