Legislation returns to file felony charges against killer dog owners

COLUMBUS (WCMH) — Getting legislation passed in the state can be a long arduous process.

State Senator Bill Beagle, representing State Senate District 5, felt that first hand as the 131st General Assembly came to an end. But even though his bill that attempted to revise laws related to nuisance, dangerous, and vicious dogs did not finish its journey through the legislature that is not the end of its story.

Beagle has reintroduced his bill and this time State Representatives Steve Huffman and Jeff Rezabek have put forth an identical bill in the House.

The senator is confident his bill will make its way through the Senate relatively smoothly. It has already seen the scrutiny of most of his fellow senators, and that gives the companion bill in the House over a year for those lawmakers to work through the legislation.

This all came about because of a deadly dog attack in Dayton in February 2014. Klonda Richey was mauled to death by her neighbor’s dogs. She had repeatedly notified the authorities of problems with the way the dogs were acting and being treated.

Beagle says the system ultimately failed Richey.

After her death, Beagle says the legal arm of society could not hold the owners of the dogs accountable in a way that he and others felt was sufficient. The best they could do was charge the owners with a misdemeanor; his bill would increase the possible charge for a dog that kills someone to a felony.

Beagle is careful not to target breeds in his legislation. He says that would be counter-productive. And in the end, most agree that the fault ultimately lies with the owner, not with the dog itself.

His bill is the same as the one that passed out of the Senate last session.

“It’s my hope that this bill will get through to protect all those children and adults who get bit and certainly get severely injured,” said Beagle.

In addition to adding the possibility of felony charges, the bill allows dog wardens to make an arrest in limited circumstances and increases the number of years a convicted felon must wait before owning a dog.

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