PETITION TARGET: The Ohio Senate Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee
A 10-month-old Yorkie named Coco was repeatedly shoved in a freezer, wet and shaking, until she died. Her abuser then placed her in a pet bed and lied about what happened to her heartbroken guardian, who learned the truth from home surveillance camera footage.
Phil Savelli, whom law enforcement have charged with animal cruelty, pleaded not guilty to killing Coco and is awaiting sentencing. Meanwhile, Ohio’s lawmakers are saying that it’s time for those who intentionally torture pets to the point of death to face stricter penalties for their deadly and atrocious acts.
SB 164, sponsored by Senators Jay Hottinger and Kenny Yuko, would make it a fifth degree felony for anyone — including first time offenders — to intentionally and cruelly kill a companion animal, which encompasses mutilating, maiming, or poisoning pets.
That felony level comes with required jail time of six to 12 months and fines of up to $2,500 — an increase from the law’s existing classification for that same act as a first degree misdemeanor, punishable by only up to six months in jail and a $1,000 fine.
Beating, poisoning, mutilating, or maiming an animal to death also would get bumped up to a fourth degree felony, carrying penalties of between six months and 18 months in jail, fines of up to $5,000, and a 5-year probation period.
The legislation adds in penalties for anyone who knowingly permits another person to kill a companion animal and also would require that fatal acts against pets be classified in Ohio’s criminal system as violent crimes.
That amended classification is critical, the Ohio Animal Welfare Federation said — writing in testimony that Ohio judges are sometimes prevented from including prison time as sentences for violent animal abusers who don’t otherwise have felonies or misdemeanors.
“The link between animal abuse and human violence has been well documented,” the organization said. “Treating the most violent, inhumane, knowing acts of companion animal abuse that cause serious injury or death as the violent acts they are is essential if we are to take this link seriously.”
The bill also would prohibit animal shelters from using gas chambers to kill animals without first consulting with the state veterinary medical licensing board about more humane alternatives.
Sign our petition urging the Ohio Senate Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee to condemn acts of deadly violence against animals, including the proposed stricter penalties for animal abusers, and to pass this important bill on for full Senate consideration.