The rally was calling for the reform of Ohio’s Animal Cruelty laws, which are some of the weakest in the United States.
One of the touchstones for today’s rally was a situation involving a dog - now named Forrest.
For those who are unfamiliar with Forrest’s history, allow me to give some background. On November 25, 2012, Raymone Clements, an ex-convict who had served time for drug trafficking, armed robbery, and raping two young girls, took this gentle Mastiff into Forrest Hills Park last year and tied him to a tree. In the presence of two female companions, Clements shot at the dog four times, hitting him twice: one bullet lodged in his jaw, the other penetrated his shoulder and lodged in his chest. Clements and his friends then walked away, apparently content to let the dog bleed out.
The dog lingered overnight in 30 degree weather and was discovered by a dog-walker the next morning. Thanks to the intervention of several concerned people, the dog was saved, named Forrest, and adopted by a couple in Solon.
Forrest’s story had a happy ending. For all too many companion animals, that is not the case.
As for Clements, he faced a judge in Federal Court today. The misdemeanor charges of animal cruelty have long since been dropped. Instead, Clements faces felony charges for illegal possession of a firearm and ammunition, which is barred due to his previous convictions.
Those of us who were on Public Square, myself included, did not rally just for Forrest - although his situation has become a rallying cry for those who favor reform. We rallied because Ohio's animal cruelty laws are woefully inadequate and out of sync with most of the country.
Consider this: In Ohio, you can torture and kill a dog or cat - and the penalty you face is about the same as a traffic ticket. The situation is not limited to canines and felines – starve a horse to death and you’ll get a slap on the wrist. Any right-thinking person would recognize there's something wrong with that.
For those who don’t know me personally, let me make it plain that I am hardly some kind of radical. I do not consider animals or humans to be equivalent. Nor do I follow the PETA line and believe that domesticated dogs and cats are being held “in bondage” and should be set free. I am not a vegetarian/vegan who chants “meat is murder” and the like. Nor did I get that vibe from others in the crowd – otherwise, I surely would have gotten comments and angry looks because of the leather jacket I was wearing. This is not a conservative vs. liberal issue. It is one of basic humanity.
What we are asking is merely that Ohio’s animal cruelty laws be brought into sync with most of the rest of the country.
For those who say that we should not bother with worrying about animals and concentrate on people instead, note this well: People who abuse animals often abuse humans also.