COLUMBUS - On Wednesday, lawmakers on the Ohio Senate Agriculture Committee approved legislation, sponsored by State Senator Bill Beagle (R-Tipp City), aimed at reforming statutes on nuisance, dangerous and vicious dogs.

"The Senate Agriculture Committee’s approval of the Klonda Richey Act is encouraging news for Ohioans living in fear for their family's safety because of dangerous animals in their neighborhoods," said Beagle. "I am hopeful that this legislation will receive favorable support from my colleagues on the floor of the Ohio Senate."

Following a string of tragic incidents in the Dayton area and across Ohio involving vicious dogs, Senator Bill Beagle introduced legislation seeking to close loopholes in existing law that prevent the owners of dangerous animals from being held accountable.

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 about 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 hold owners of dangerous dogs accountable."
The proposed legislation was drafted in collaboration with the city of Dayton, county officials, local prosecutors, dog wardens, sheriffs and others. 
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 Senate Rules and Reference Committee before going to the Senate floor for a vote. 

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