More than five years ago, Liz Raab and Tom Siesto left their dog Nitro in the care of Steve Croley at his kennel, High Caliber K-9, not knowing that would be the last time they saw him alive.
As the story goes, Nitro’s owners had a trusting relationship with Croley, who was recommended by their breeder, and believed he would be well cared for while they were dealing with a family emergency that involved travel.
Unfortunately, what should have been a good time at “puppy camp” ended up becoming a gruesome scene. During a 2008 raid at the kennel, humane officers discovered 19 dogs who were dead or near death. Graphic images show the skeletal remains of formerly healthy dogs who were left to starve in Croley’s care. Nitro was one of the ones who didn’t make it.
According to the Nitro Foundation, Croley was originally charged with 19 counts of animal cruelty with misdemeanor penalties, despite the severity of the crime, which were then dropped down to 4 counts of misdemeanor animal cruelty due to a legal technicality. Croley was given a plea bargain and sentenced to four months in jail.
Nitro’s life was one of the charges dropped. Needless to say, the outcome didn’t sit well with his owners or other animal lovers who started campaigning for tougher laws to punish animal abusers.
After years of trying, last week they finally saw a victory when Governor John Kasich signed Nitro’s law, which will make it a felony on a first offense for kennel owners and operators to commit acts of animal cruelty in any facility with a commercial kennel license, whether it’s for boarding, breeding, training or rescue.
“Finally, after all these years of losing Nitro so horrifically in 2008, Nitro and his kennel mates will be able rest in peace,” Raab and Siesto said in a statement released to FOX 8. “Their deaths are not in vain. This law will make a huge difference and will be built upon to include more and more for the protection of our companion animals, our family members. We can’t begin to thank all the people who helped to make this happen. Thank you to all the people who joined our grassroots effort and never gave up, all who stuck with us through thick and thin. Thank You, Thank You, Thank You.”
The passage of Nitro’s law also marks the first time the state has passed any law where animal cruelty can be charged as a felony on a first offense. Ohio is still one of only six states that have no first time felony penalties for animal cruelty.
“Ohio has long been at the bottom of the barrel when it comes to punishing severe acts of animal cruelty. Nitro’s Law would bring the state more in line with the vast majority of states in the country by holding those who intentionally and maliciously abuse animals accountable for their actions. We applaud the Ohio legislature for taking a step in the right direction,” said Karen Minton, Ohio state director for The Humane Society of the United States.
warning: graphic photos
Photo credit: Thinkstock
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