COLUMBUS — On Tuesday, the Ohio Senate approved legislation, sponsored by State Senator Bill Beagle (R-Tipp City), aimed at reforming statutes on nuisance, dangerous and vicious dogs.
“Passage of the Klonda Richey Act in the Ohio Senate should be encouraging news for those who are concerned for the safety of themselves or their loved ones because of potentially dangerous dogs in their communities,” said Beagle.
Following a string of tragic incidents in the Dayton area and across Ohio involving vicious dogs, Senator Bill Beagle introduced a bill seeking to close legal loopholes preventing owners of dangerous dogs from being held accountable for damages their animals may cause.
Named after a Dayton woman who was tragically mauled by her neighbor’s dog in February 2014, the “Klonda Richey Act” seeks to prevent future attacks and to hold animal owners accountable. Before she was attacked outside her home in February 2014, Klonda Richey made more than a dozen phone calls to local authorities over several months regarding the threatening behaviors of her neighbor’s dogs and the lack of care the animals were receiving.
“The system failed Klonda Richey,” said Beagle. “We all agree that there are ways to improve the law and to hold owners of dangerous dogs accountable.”
The legislation was drafted in consultation with a diverse group of subject matter experts.
Existing penalties do not correspond with the severity of offenses. Animal control experts describe the current law as “one free growl, one free bite, and one free kill.” Senator Beagle’s bill equips local authorities to address problem dogs and their owners without punishing those that are not a serious threat.
Provisions in the Klonda Richey Act include:
- Creating an overall penalty structure for nuisance, dangerous and vicious dogs including clear penalties for seriously injuring or killing a person or companion animal. Includes the permission for dogs to be humanely destroyed when they kill a person, companion animal or seriously injure a person
- Extending the amount of time felons cannot own dogs from 3 to 5 years.
- Clarifying that dog wardens have arresting authority
- Requiring an investigation or follow up on every call to a dog warden
- Requiring owners to respond to warnings or postings on the dwelling about their dogs within a defined amount of time.
- Allowing witnesses to provide notarized affidavits (current codes do not allow a dog warden to cite owners unless they’re a witness to the incident)
- Changing ‘provocation’ to an affirmative defense, instead of being an element of the offense
- Creating a penalty for noncompliance on requirements for transferring a dangerous dog
- Requiring each dog designated as “dangerous” be registered, with their information filed in a database that is updated annually
The legislation now goes to the House of Representatives for further consideration.