Nitro’s Law – Fight Animal Cruelty in Ohio

Today in the House Committee on Criminal Justice, members heard powerful testimony in support of “Nitro’s Law,” legislation that would allow for harsher punishment in animal cruelty cases. The bill is HB 108, sponsored by Democratic Reps. Ron Gerberry and Robert Hagan, both of Youngstown.

“Nitro’s Law” was inspired by tragic events at High Caliber K9 in Youngstown, OH, where Nitro, a pure-bred Rottweiler, and 7 other dogs starved to death after weeks of neglect. Kennel/training school owner Steve Croley was sentenced in 2009 to a mere 4 months in jail.

Tom Siesto, Nitro’s “father”, came 8 hours from New York to Columbus to testify. He gave a teary account of his dog’s story today, pausing occasionally to fight back his tears as he mentioned the horrible suffering Nitro experienced in his last days. He placed a canister of Nitro’s remains on the podium while he spoke. One of the more emotional moments in the testimony came as he recalled Nitro’s playful way of letting him know when he was thirsty.

Nitro loved to drink water and he could drink it like a camel; he would pick up his metal water bowl when it was empty and throw it to let us know when he needed more, he wouldn’t stop picking it up and throwing it until we would refill it. I can’t tell you all…how many times I’ve sat and cried wondering how many times he must have picked up his bowl and thrown it around his kennel…waiting…so thirsty…but nobody ever came to give him any water.

Ohio ranks 43rd on the Humane Society’s 2010 “Humane State Report.” Currently, someone convicted of animal cruelty in Ohio receives the same punishment as someone who bashes a mail box with a baseball bat. It’s not acceptable for companion animals to be viewed on the same level as a mailbox, or to equate, even in a legal sense, violence toward animals and petty vandalism. Many studies have shown a correlation between violence to animals and violence to humans. If for no other reason, this should make our state less tolerant of the sorts of intolerable crimes such as the one that unfolded at High Caliber K9.

This video is from the Nitro Foundation web site. Be forewarned: It’s a tear jerker!

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