At first glance it might seem a bit superfluous to include a person’s pets or companion animal in a protection order, but it becomes much more understandable in the context of domestic violence cases or issues such as stalking, harassment, or other activities where the motive is one more of intimidation. Then they may well become targets as surely as their human counterparts as assailants attempt to assert their influence over the human subject.
So we now have near companion Senate Bill 177, introduced last Monday by Michael Skindell and House Bill 243, introduced just yesterday by Marilyn Slaby and Michael Stinziano seeking just such amendments to Ohio’s protective order procedure
An article in this morning’s Plain Dealer more specifically discuses SB 177 saying, “twenty-four other states already have similar measures on the books, according to Lesley Ashworth, a consultant for the Ohio Domestic Violence Network. And research in Ohio that included surveys of domestic violence programs and the victims who use them found large support for pet protection in Ohio.”
SB 177 more generally adds “the protection of companion animals in temporary protection orders, domestic violence protection orders, anti-stalking protection orders, and related protection orders; while HB 243 additionally would provide “requiring a child who is adjudicated a delinquent for cruelty to a companion animal to undergo a psychological evaluation and, if recommended, counseling, and sentence other offenders who commit that offense to probationary supervision, along with including the protection of companion animals in temporary protection orders, domestic violence protection orders, anti-stalking protection orders, and related protection orders.”
Both bills specifically cite Ohio Revised Code 959.131 as the basis for a definition of companion animal as “any animal that is kept inside a residential dwelling and any dog or cat regardless of where it is kept, but not including livestock or any wild animal,” and already holds “No person shall knowingly torture, torment, needlessly mutilate or maim, cruelly beat, poison, needlessly kill, or commit an act of cruelty against a companion animal.”