Rhonda Rose did what any animal lover would do when she saw an emaciated dog: She fed the poor creature, took it to the vet and called the sheriff’s office for help.
“I took it to the vet and the vet verified that it was starvation,” Rose told NBC news. As the treasurer of the Scioto Area Humane Society, Rose was not surprised by this. The dog was so emaciated that it had lost half its body weight.
However, when she checked in with the Scioto County Sheriff’s Office in Portsmouth, Ohio, as she knew she was required to do, Rose was charged with criminal trespass and petty theft.
Outraged by this decision, over a dozen supporters gathered outside the Portsmouth Municipal Courthouse in protest; They carried signs that read “Prosecute the abuser, not the rescuer,” and “Stop animal abuse.”
The Care2 team was equally disgusted by the decision to charge Rose for saving this dog’s life and created a petition demanding that the Scioto County Sheriff’s Office drop charges against Rhonda Rose immediately.
Over 116,000 Care2 members have signed this petition, angry that an act of compassion has become a criminal offense.
Mary G., writing from Minnesota, echoes the thoughts of many, “Humans like this who intervene in emergency situations to save animal lives are those that we need MORE of. It is criminal to penalize them for their charitable actions. Let this woman go without charges.”
Not only do these charges go against any decent human instinct to save a dying animal, they also go against Ohio law that allows a person to remove an animal if they believe that animal is being neglected.
Ironically, while all 50 states have felony animal cruelty provisions, in some states the legal course of action is to notify authorities about the animal neglect, but not to remove the animal.
That’s not true in Ohio.
According to Ohio Revised Code, 1717.13,
“When, in order to protect any animal from neglect, it is necessary to take possession of it, any person may do so. When an animal is impounded or confined, and continues without necessary food, water, or proper attention for more than fifteen successive hours, any person may, as often as is necessary, enter any place in which the animal is impounded or confined and supply it with necessary food, water, and attention, so long as it remains there, or, if necessary, or convenient, he may remove such animal.”
The law goes on to state the person removing the animal will not be liable to any prosecution.
Yet Captain Robert Woodward with the Scioto County Sheriff’s office refuses to discuss Rose’s case and the City Solicitor John Haas has only said that Rose has a history with the court system.
“The dog is now in Kentucky on a 100-acre farm, gained weight, it weighed 61 pounds, it now weighs 120 pounds and is doing great,” Rose told NBC news.
But while the dog is enjoying his new life, Rose’s trial is set to begin on February 20.