The Investigation Discovery documentary Fear Thy Neighbor recently shed light on the events leading up to the tragic death of Klonda Richey, a Dayton woman who lost her life in her own front yard during a vicious and preventable attack by her neighbors’ dog.
Leading up to her death, Richey made several attempts to report her neighbors’ dogs to local authorities out of fear for her own safety as well as concern for the animals’ welfare. Despite her efforts, the owners were not indicted by a grand jury and were only charged with a misdemeanor for failure to control the dogs.
As Ohioans spend more time outdoors during warmer weather, we are again reminded of the need for common sense reforms that would ensure that Klonda Richey’s tragic death was not in vain. Our system failed her and more needs to be done to prevent future attacks. Ohio’s laws must hold owners of dangerous dogs accountable in order to protect our children, family, and friends. We need to equip our local officials with the tools required to deal with problem pets and their owners.
After extensive consultation with a range of local experts, I introduced Senate Bill 151 last year—known as the Klonda Richey Act. This legislation honors the memory of Richey and many others who have lost their lives in similar attacks, establishing comprehensive reforms to our state’s vicious dog laws.
Senate Bill 151 received its third hearing this week in the Senate Agriculture Committee. Klonda Richey’s death was caused by a senseless attack, but this important legislation honors her life and takes meaningful steps to protect others from the same preventable outcome.
The Klonda Richey Act is both responsive and preventative, establishing a system of accountability for dog owners and creating more effective response requirements for law enforcement. In the event of a tragedy, the bill imposes more severe penalties to hold owners responsible and increase awareness among animal owners. The bill creates a thorough penalty structure for nuisance, dangerous and vicious dogs including more severe penalties for seriously injuring or killing a person or another companion animal. It is important to note that this bill does not reinstitute any breed specific laws.
Ohioans’ complaints against malicious and menacing dogs must be taken seriously while also providing local officials the means to effectively respond to complaints and protect our neighborhoods.
The recent Investigation Discovery documentary as well as today’s testimony remind us of the work that must be done to prevent future attacks and I remain committed to moving this legislation forward in the memory of Klonda Richey.
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Senator Bill Beagle serves the people of Ohio’s 5th Senate District, which includes Miami and Preble Counties as well as portions of Montgomery and Darke Counties. Viewpoints expressed in the article are the work of the author. The Daily Advocate does not endorse these viewpoints or the independent activities of the author.