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?