Man Tied Dogs To A Train Track, Will Get ‘Slap On The Wrist’ If Caught

This dog, called Chessie, escaped being tied to an Ohio train track. She's currently up for adoption in Cleveland.

In one of the most shocking incidents of animal abuse in recent memory, a man tied three dogs to a train track in Ohio and documented the event with pictures or video. While one of the dogs managed to escape and is resting in a Cleveland shelter, the other two were mauled by an oncoming train. The dogs’ ordeal was discovered only by chance, as they were taken to a remote location with no nearby housing, suggesting the killer was sensitive to the risk of discovery.

Of course, he wasn’t deterred by the risk of being caught entirely, and for good reason: Ohio has some of the weakest animal cruelty laws in the country. An investigation by Cleveland’s Channel 5 found that, while the vast majority of states make abuse a felony, it’s only a “slap on the wrist” in Ohio on the first offense:

The Humane Society of the United States releases a yearly “Humane State Ranking” report assessing states’ animal protection laws. Ohio ranked 45 in 2010. The ranking was changed to 36 in 2011, after Ohio’s Livestock Care Standards Board adopted new rules to protect farm animals. …

Another animal rights group, the Animal Legal Defense Fund, ranks Ohio 31st. The state’s lack of felony legislation for animal cruelty cases is a “substantial flaw” in the law, according to Scott Heiser, the senior attorney and criminal justice program director for the ALDF. Heiser said animal cruelty laws are a large part of the reason Ohio is ranked 31.

Heiser said Idaho, North Dakota and South Dakota have no animal cruelty statutes. In Iowa, Mississippi and Ohio, a second offense for animal cruelty is a felony. A first offense is a misdemeanor, no matter the severity of the allegations of cruelty.

In Ohio, the first offense of animal cruelty is a second degree misdemeanor, meaning that it carries a maximum jail sentence of 90 days. The same offense is a felony in 44 other states.

A recent case of dog torture in Pennsylvania highlighted similar problems in the law there. Ohio, however, might be planning to do something about it — new legislation, referred to as “Nitro’s Law,” would strengthen animal cruelty laws against dog kennel owners. The legislation is currently stalled in the Ohio Senate, despite the fact that many people who commit murder and assault had previously abused animals.