How Much Time is Enough Time?

Yesterday the sentencing was handed down in a Toledo, Ohio animal abuse case that has received quite a bit of press. The case was about a mixed breed dog named Tyson who was stolen out of his yard and shot last June.

Essentially, the details in the case were that a man and a woman went onto Tyson’s owner’s property and took him. A neighbor’s security camera caught some of it on tape. The woman went into the back yard of the home, got Tyson, and led him away down the street. Tyson walked with her just as nice as you please. Later, the security camera caught Tyson staggering home, reaching his driveway and collapsing. He’d been shot once in the left eye and once in the chest with a 45 caliber handgun.

The man then called 911 to report that his own dog had just been attacked by another dog (Tyson). But Toledo police found no evidence of injury to the man’s pet.

The man and woman were charged with animal torture, killing or injuring animals, firearms discharge, making a false police report, petty theft, endangering, & criminal trespass. Both pled no contest and were found guilty last month of cruelty to animals. The other charges were dropped.

On March 3, Judge Michael Goulding of Toledo Municipal Court sentenced the man to 180 days in jail (120 days suspended). 30 days must be served and then he will have 60 days of electronic monitoring or work release, four years active probation and two years inactive probation and he must perform 100 hours of community service. The woman was sentenced to 30 days electronic monitoring, 2 years probation and 100 hours of community service. They each must pay $100 in fines and court costs.

There was no court order to pay any restitution to Tyson’s owners for vet bills. There is a civil case filed to recover damages of $25,000 for Tyson’s care and $150,000 in punitive damages. Tyson is blind in his eye since being shot and still has a bullet lodged inside of him, which his owners can’t afford to have removed.

As you might have guessed, the reaction to the sentencing in the animal rescue community has been one of disgust. The general consensus is that the punishment is not severe enough to fit the crime. Some people have thrown out comments like “It should have been 30 yrs!” and I personally feel like the courthouse should just be bulldozed because it’s apparently a useless pile of brick and mortar.

So this begs the question: How much time is really enough time for this type of crime? Take into consideration the reality of prison sentences served for various crimes: some murderers don’t even serve 30 years – and please comment below.

A little reference for your consideration: Ohio’s animal abuse laws are some of the weakest in the nation. Animal cruelty is only a felony in Ohio if the person has a prior abuse charge and is caught. Currently there is a bill in the Ohio house called Nitro’s Law (HB 108) which seeks to make animal cruelty/abuse a 5th degree felony in Ohio.

Just to clarify, the felony laws in Ohio carry the following sentences:

  • First Degree—3 to 10 years in prison, maximum fine of $20,000
  • Second Degree—2 to 8 years in prison, maximum fine of $15,000
  • Third Degree—1 to 5 years in prison, maximum fine of $10,000
  • Fourth Degree—6 to 18 months in prison, maximum fine of $5,000
  • Fifth Degree—6 to 12 months in prison, maximum fine of $2,500

People convicted of committing a felony in the first or second degree will most likely serve time in prison. Crimes committed in the fourth and fifth degree carry a presumption against time in prison and the offender will probably receive probation.

I have been a supporter of Nitro’s Law (HB 108). However, in light of this case and the description of felony sentences in Ohio, I personally think that Nitro’s Law should be even stronger: fourth degree felony at least.

Let’s discuss this. How much time do YOU think is enough time?


About yelodoggie

Ariel C. Wulff is an author, artist and animal advocate. They have been involved in pet rescue for over twenty-five years. They have written two books about their true-life adventures living with an ever-changing house full of pets: Born Without a Tail, and Circling the Waggins, and a guide to animal advocacy using the Internet as a tool: How to Change the World in 30 Seconds". Wulff also wrote a pet column and book review column for the Examiner, and was a contributing editor for They attribute their love of animals to having been raised by Wulffs.
This entry was posted in The Woof on Animal Welfare Legislation and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

8 Responses to How Much Time is Enough Time?

  1. ouacstowohio says:

    I don’t understand the reasoning behind our current law in Ohio. Is this because of our jails being overcrowded? I cannot fathom a judge feeling good about themselves at the end of the day? I feel they must have some underlying reason for simple sentencing? Obviously, they do not think animal cruelty to be as bad a crime as others…but why?

    I honestly feel that if the law is not changed Ohioans that are abusive to animals will continue. The consequences of the crime are not harsh enough to scare these individuals. If punishment were more severe, in the long run less people would abuse animals and less would crowd the jails. I would think a few harsh sentences with a lot of media attention would make abusers think twice about their actions.


  2. yelodoggie says:

    I think it’s important for judges to remember that studies have shown that cruelty to animals is often a precursor for other violence. If you look at the profiles of some of the most notorious killers: Jeffrey Dahmer, Joe Ball, Ted Bundy, John Wayne Gacy, Henry Lee Lucas; they all have one thing in common – they began by torturing animals. Whatever laws are eventually passed to bring harsher sentences for crimes of cruelty, I think that all sentencing should include psychological evaluation and couseling.


  3. Lu says:

    That is tragic! Colorado passed a law making animal abuse crimes a felony. What helped pass it was the evidence that people who commit violent acts on other people often have animal abuse in their backgrounds.


    • bren says:

      so true lu– glad to know col passed this—- sends wrong message to our children also when they get slapped on the wrists— many of the laws tie the judge’s hands on sentencing and this has to change— look at the NFL PLAYER but he did jail time- so sad this happens— our courts need to get tougher—- we need to protect our animals also—


  4. Dawn Ashby says:

    Every article I’ve read ‘cries’ for stronger animal cruelty laws in Ohio, with the exception of one which ‘laughed’ at the absurdity of the lenient Ohio laws. There was even one I read simply entitled, “Ohio Animal Cruelty Laws Suck”. I think that title in itself says it all.


  5. Nancy says:

    Ok, that was very disturbing. Very disturbing. I learned in Sociology class that if someone abuses an animal, they are more likely to proceed to abusing people. If that’s the thought in the criminal justice community, then why not “nip these offenders in the tail”. But, alas, we have issues with enough room in our jails. A few months in jail and a very stiff fine seems like the way to go. And, definitely restitution for the vet bills!


  6. bren says:

    what an outrage and caught on camera!!! what the hell is wrong with the judges and public outcry should have been screaming— they send the wrong messages to our children too and to adults who do this— let them sit in jail for 10 min yrs or more—jail my butt- prison!!! we got room!! and yes vet bills paid!! how sick are these people– send them to a foreign prison and let them rot!!!


  7. jenny says:

    LIFE, obviously these people are below pond scum and have no place in civil society. I also get annoyed when people say well, animal abuse should be stopped because it leads to human abuse. It is BAD enough that innocent animals are tortured and killed and should be classified as a felony!


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