Katie Mark, For The Miami Student

Pet owners need to provide food, water and shelter for companion animals, according to Facility Manager Kassie Jadin at the Progressive Animal Welfare Society (PAWS) Adoption Center in Middletown, 2790 Cincinnati-Dayton Rd.

Jadin said 75 percent of their animals were found as strays or handed over by their owner. “I think we’ve had about five in the last three month,” Jadin said. “It really depends. Sometimes we don’t see it for months and sometimes we see it a ton.”

According to Jadin, animal cruelty in Ohio is a misdemeanor. “In 45 other states, it’s a felony,” Jadin said. “This is something that we’ve been trying to change in Ohio for awhile.”

Jadin said the consequence of being charged with a misdemeanor can range from a small fine to probation or community service. The possibility of jail time depends on the situation, the judge and the severity of the case.

“It could be something like the dog didn’t have shelter or something severe like the dog was not fed for a month,” Jadin said. “So it really varies.”

During the last three months at PAWS, Jadin said they have had four animals come through that have been severely abused and those animals come to PAWS through the Butler County sheriff’s office.

“We don’t go out and get them necessarily, so they go through the sheriff and then we get them,” Jadin said.

PAWS does not get all animal abuse cases because there are many shelters and rescues in the surrounding areas.

“If we do get them, we take them to the vet to get them assessed, make a treatment plan and then go from there to rehabilitate them,” Jadin said. “Eventually we adopt them out to homes.”

According to Jadin, PAWS handles both dogs and cats, but animal abuse is more prevalent in dogs. “Cats are a little bit easier to get away,” Jadin said. “They’re easier to hide out so it’s not really noticeable if something’s happening to a cat.”

Miami University psychology professor Dr. Elizabeth Kiel said she was not sure if the psychology field knew whether punishment for animal cruelty would prevent the individual from committing animal cruelty again in the future.

“There is a pretty good relation between cruelty to animals and later externalizing type behavior such as conduct disorder,” Kiel said.

Miami University senior Andrew Hogan volunteers at numerous animal rescue centers and said he has helped care for sick, injured, dying or neglected animals because owners fail to do research before buying an animal.

He said elevating animal cruelty to a felony is a great step forward because often people get a pet and don’t realize the commitment that brings many responsibilities and it is upsetting to see what people have done to them.

“We need to raise more awareness about this,” Hogan said. “It will help reduce suffering endured by pets and other animals.”