UPDATE: Push for Stiffer Penalties for Animal Abuse

By: Lauren Schmoll Email
By: Lauren Schmoll Email

UPDATE 5/1/13 @ 6 p.m.
MEIGS COUNTY, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- A three-year push to increase the penalties for animal abuse in Ohio is about to go to a vote in the statehouse.

And there's a local tie to this bill.

One woman from Meigs County has worked tirelessly to spread the word about Nitro's law and is also hoping to broaden its reach.

Nitro's law is a bill in Ohio that would up the penalty on certain types of animal abuse to a felony. And the Facebook campaign for Nitro's law has gone viral. But for one family from Meigs County, it's more than just another online cause. It’s personal.

Julia Wood is on a mission: a mission to make sure something like what happened to her dog, Shultzie, doesn't go without a stiff punishment.

“You wonder if the days of the Old West and the laws then weren't a little more effective because then they actually provided a deterrent,” Julia Wood said. “We don't have deterrents now.”

Julia's husband is the Meigs County Sheriff. Shortly after the election November, someone brutally attacked Shultzie with a pipe.

“We needed to try and rescue him,” Meigs County Sheriff Keith Wood said. “Try to save him from the injuries. But he couldn't walk. He was never able to walk again.”

“Our little girl's childhood memory will not be one of her playing with her dog,” Julia Wood. “She will remember having to watch her dog suffer and not understanding why he was beaten, not understanding why God didn't save him which she's asked me and not understanding why nothing in the state of Ohio will be done to that person if convicted.”

A few weeks later, Shultzie died and Julia started working hard to make sure that people who hurt animals face a harsher punishment.

"It begins with us, every day person," she said. "If we don't go tell them how we want them to vote for us, we can't sit back and criticize them any longer, and that's why I've gotten involved. Because I want things to be better."

As she continues her fight for justice for Shultzie.

So far, Shultzie's killer hasn't been caught. The case is still under investigation.

Even if Nitro's law does pass, It will not affect the person who killed Shultzie since the crime happened before it was on the books.

As it is written, Nitro's law only addresses animal abuses at kennels and boarding facilities.

There is hope that after it is passed, it can be expanded to include all types of animal abuse.

It will go up for vote in the Ohio house within the next two weeks.

ORIGINAL STORY 2/5/13 @ 6 p.m.
MEIGS COUNTY, Ohio (WSAZ) -- When Keith Wood was elected Meigs County Sheriff in November, he had no idea his family would soon become the victim of a heinous crime.

“Why someone would do this, I have no idea what the point of that was,” Wood said.

A month after the election, while Wood was in Columbus at Sheriff's training, someone drove into his yard and beat his family's German shepherd nearly to death.

“We needed to try and rescue him ... try to save him from the injuries,” Wood said. “But he couldn't walk. He never was able to walk again.”

The dog spent weeks at an animal hospital in Columbus before coming home to try and recover. Eventually, Wood made the difficult decision to put him down. Especially tough, because the dog belonged to Wood's 7-year-old daughter.

“It's hard for a kid to understand that, and you just wonder what's going through her mind,” Wood said. “That maybe someone did do that on purpose.”

Even he had a hard time believing someone would deliberately hurt his dog. Soon, though, something else happened that made it clear.

“It was a week later to the night they brought back and put beer cans at the spot where he'd been laying ... so it was too many things there that pointed to a message to me I guess,” Wood said.

Now, his family is offering a $200 reward for information leading to an arrest -- before something worse happens.

“There's somebody out there that's deranged that has a problem that they need help, besides being arrested,” Wood said.

But even an arrest won't heal the wounds for his daughter.

“You can't replace that,” Wood said. “It's gone for her.”

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