Vicious dog bill named for Klonda Richey moves closer to vote

A Ohio Senate bill aimed at reforming the state’s dog laws had a third committee hearing this week and could be closer to a floor vote.

Sen. Bill Beagle, R-Tipp City, introduced the Klonda Richey Act on April 27, 2015 — more than a year after Klonda Richey, of Dayton, was mauled to death by dogs owned by a neighboring couple, Andrew Nason and Julie Custer.

Richey’s relationship with the couple and her death were recently portrayed in an episode of Investigation Discovery’s “Fear Thy Neighbor.” The episode, “Neighbors Clash Like Cats and Dogs,” includes reenactments of Richey’s strained relationship with Nason. It also includes interviews with Sadea Bryant, another neighbor, who said there was a lack of respect between Richey and Nason.

On Tuesday, about 10 people testified during the committee hearing, Beagle said. Some of those who testified had concerns about the bill’s requirement for the destruction of vicious dogs.

“We will take the suggestions and criticisms that were brought up in committee and take another look at the bill,” Beagle said.

Beagle hopes the bill will get approved by the Senate Agriculture Committee and move to the senate floor before summer.

“The priority has always been to get the best piece and the most effective piece of legislation we can,” he said. “Not necessarily to get something fast. It took a long time to get the interested parties around a table and figure out what are the best ways we can solve the problem. You don’t want to pass a bill just to pass a bill.”

The bill includes:

  • Changing the definition of a vicious dog from a dog who causes serious injury to a person to a dog that has killed a person.
  • Requiring a court to order the humane destruction of a vicious dog or a dog that has killed a person, but has not been determined to be a vicious dog.
  • If a dog kills someone, the penalty for failure to confine or restrain a dog increases from a fourth to a fifth degree felony.
  • If a dog causes serious injury, the penalty for failure to confine or restrain a dog changes from a first degree misdemeanor to a fifth degree felony.
  • The addition of child endangerment to the list of offenses that can prevent a person from owning certain types of dogs.
  • Clarifying that “dog wardens” have the authority to make arrests.

Richey’s cousin, Carol Myers, said she hopes the bill will become a law.

“Maybe it will make the public more aware and it’s a nice remembrance for my cousin … I just wish it (the bill) was a little tougher,” she said.

The most recent state senate hearing occurred 11 months after Nason and Custer were sentenced in Dayton Municipal Court. Both pleaded no contest and were each found guilty of two misdemeanor counts of failure to control dogs.

Nason was sentenced to 150 days in jail, 500 hours of community service within a year and a $500 fine and court costs. Custer was sentenced to 90 days in jail, 480 hours of community service within three years and a $200 fine and court costs.

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