Once again, Ohio lawmakers will not vote to strengthen state laws governing dangerous and vicious dogs as the two-year legislative session comes to a close this week.
Although the Klonda Richey Act unanimously passed the Ohio Senate on Tuesday, the Ohio House has no plans to take it up before tomorrow’s final legislative day, said state Sen. Bill Beagle, R-Tipp City, the primary sponsor of the bill that was first introduced in April 2015. A similar bill introduced in May 2014 also failed to gain approval before the end of the two-year session.
“I don’t anticipate it going anywhere in the House due to the time. I do plan on reintroducing it next year and the momentum will help,” Beagle told this newspaper. He crafted the bill in collaboration with city and county officials, local prosecutors, sheriffs, dog wardens and humane society officers.
The bill sought to close legal loopholes preventing owners of dangerous dogs from being held accountable for their animals actions and to increase penalties.
Nearly three years ago, Klonda Richey, 57, was mauled to death by two mixed-mastiff dogs outside her home at 31 E. Bruce Ave. Her body lay outside in subfreezing temperatures until a passerby reported seeing a naked body in the snow around 8:15 a.m. When police responded, the dogs charged them and were shot and killed. The dogs owners — Andrew Nason and Julie Custer — pleaded no contest to misdemeanor counts of failure to control dogs.
Richey turned to authorities — the Montgomery County Animal Resource Center, the police and courts — for protection from the dogs and her neighbors in the two years preceding her death..
In total, there were 13 complaints about 35 E. Bruce Ave. filed with the Animal Resource Center. There were another 46 calls to the Montgomery County Regional Dispatch Center related to Nason’s home between Dec. 27, 2011, and Richey’s death. Richey or someone associated with her phone number called the Montgomery County Regional Dispatch Center 23 times. The other calls were anonymous.
The majority of calls were about the dogs at the Nason house, but other calls included complaints about juveniles, fireworks and other activity. The two dogs that attacked Richey did not have a designation as nuisance, dangerous or vicious because they had no history of biting someone or killing another dog.
“The system failed Klonda Richey,” Beagle said in a written release Tuesday. “We all agree that there are ways to improve the law and to hold owners of dangerous dogs accountable.”
Beagle’s bill called for:
* Creating a penalty structure for nuisance, dangerous and vicious dogs, including clear penalties for those that cause injuries to people or pets.
* Banning dog ownership by felons for five years, up from the current three years.
* Clarifying that dog wardens have arresting authority.
* Mandating an investigation of every call to a dog warden.
* Requiring animal owners to respond to warnings or postings left at their houses within a set amount of time.
* Allowing witness affidavits to support citations of dog owners by wardens.
* Requiring a registration database of dogs designated as dangerous.