COLUMBUS—State Representative Jeff Rezabek (R-Clayton) testified recently before the House Government Accountability and Oversight Committee on House Bill 352. The bill, which is companion legislation to Senate Bill 195, sponsored by Senator Bill Beagle, would make a series of changes to Ohio law in order to better protect innocent Ohioans from dangerous or vicious dogs.
House Bill 352 is a response to a 2014 incident in Dayton in which a woman named Klonda Richey was mauled to death in her front yard by her neighbors’ mixed mastiffs. Prior to her death, Richey had called local officials more than a dozen times over several months about the dogs, concerned they were threatening or not receiving adequate care. The owners of the dogs were not indicted following her death and were instead only charged with a misdemeanor for failure to control their animals.
Sadly, Richey was just one of several victims of such attacks; another claimed the life of a seven-month-old child just a few months later.
“Today was an important first step in the process of seeing the Klonda Richey Act passed into law,” said Rezabek, who is joint-sponsoring the legislation with Rep. Steve Huffman (R-Tipp City). “Her tragic death occurred just a little over four years to this day, and protecting vulnerable Ohioans so that an incident like this never happens again is extremely important. House Bill 352 does just that and I am proud to sponsor this piece of legislation. I am proud to sponsor this piece of legislation and I want to thank Senator Beagle for all of his hard work on this issue.”
“I was glad to have the opportunity to provide sponsor testimony on this important legislation,” Huffman said. “It is my hope that the measures in House Bill 352 will help prevent future attacks from taking place and establish a stronger process for dealing with these cases.”
House Bill 352 focuses on accountability of problem dogs and their owners, as well as a clarification of the code to make it easier to navigate.
These reforms include:
· Requiring every call to a dog warden generate an investigation or follow up
· Requiring owners to respond to warnings or postings on the dwelling about their dogs within a defined reasonable amount of time
· Increasing penalties for not complying with the requirements of transferring any dog
· Extending the amount of time violent felons cannot own dogs from 3 years to 5 years
· Creating a more comprehensive penalty structure for nuisance, dangerous, and vicious dogs including more severe penalties for seriously injuring or killing a person, or killing a companion animal