Kennel owners, workers face felony for cruelty to animals


COLUMBUS -- The $62 million, two-year state budget that Gov. John Kasich signed into law Sunday includes a provision allowing kennel owners to be charged with felony provisions for animal cruelty.

The law creates a fifth-degree felony charge for any kennel owner, operator, or employee who abuses an animal.

The bill, known as “Nitro’s Law,” was named for one of the 19 dogs found dead or near death at a kennel in Youngstown. The animals, found in abhorrent living conditions, were suffering from starvation and severe dehydration. Despite the severe nature of the offense, Ohio law permitted only a misdemeanor level penalty.

House Bill 90, sponsored by state Rep. Ronald Gerberry ( D., Austintown), was added to the state biennial budget in the Ohio Senate. It will become law via the Ohio Revised Code in 90 days.

Iowa, Idaho, Mississippi, Pennsylvania, and South Dakota are now the only states that don’t provide first time felony level penalties for animal cruelty in specific circumstances.