March 2024

Spring is right around the corner and we are excited for all that 2024 has in store. Please plan to join us on March 13 at 3:00 p.m. for our Virtual Annual Meeting when we will celebrate our accomplishments from 2023, present a legislative update, elect members to our Board of Directors, and present our plans for the year. Click here to register.



We are excited to announce our first-ever, in-person Ohio Fed Leadership Summit on May 10, 2024, at Deer Creek Lodge & Conference Center! 

The Leadership Summit is an opportunity for leaders in animal welfare in Ohio to meet each other, talk about what is happening in their communities, discuss ways they are currently addressing community needs, share ideas, and, hopefully, lay the groundwork for future collaborations. 

This special, one-day event will be structured with breakout sessions and share-outs. The sessions will be a free-flowing exchange of ideas where you can safely share your thoughts and ask questions among supportive colleagues.

Registration is limited to 50 attendees from Ohio Fed member organizations (non-members can be waitlisted) and is open to leaders who hold positions within the top two levels of their organization (no more than two people per organization). 

Click here for details and registration. We hope to see you there!


Presenting Sponsor:

Lunch Sponsor:


On April 24, we will be hosting our annual visit to the Ohio Statehouse. We are planning a full day of meetings with legislators and staff to discuss bills of interest to our members. What types of bills do we follow? Check out our Advocacy Policy.

The main bill we plan to discuss with legislators on April 24 is HB 277, the Pet Friendly Rental Act. This bill, drafted by the Cleveland Animal Protective League and sponsored by State Rep. Juanita Brent (D) and State Representative Sharon A. Ray (R), will provide a tax credit for landlords who allow dogs and cats to reside in their rental units. 

To qualify for the tax credit, landlords must not impose breed or size restrictions for pets, or a nonrefundable fee or additional rent related to the pets. Landlords will not be required to permit pets unless they want to qualify for the tax credit. 

The sponsors have continued working through some of the constructive feedback received during hearings in the House Ways & Means Committee and are optimistic that the bill will more forward soon.


Ohio Revised Code §959.131 defines a “companion animal” as “any animal that is kept inside a residential dwelling and any dog or cat regardless of where it is kept, including a pet store. A violation of R.C. §959.131(C) is a felony of the fifth degree ("Goddard's Law").

The 8th Ohio District Court of Appeals recently overturned a felony conviction under ORC 959.131 involving a cat with no identifiable caregiver. The judges based their decision on the dictionary's definition of "kept" as meaning "having control; to take care of." That means prosecutors must prove that the animal was being cared for or was under someone's physical control at the time of the abuse to get a conviction under 959.131. As prosecutors in this case were unable to do so, the conviction was overturned. This now means that stray cats and dogs are no longer companion animals in the 8th District Court's jurisdiction, and cases cannot be prosecuted under 959.131, including Goddard's Law level acts of violence.

Cuyahoga County prosecutors have appealed the decision to the Supreme Court of Ohio indicating that the obvious intent of the definition of companion animal is ALL cats and dogs, including strays.

In late February, Cuyahoga County prosecutors asked Ohio Fed to file an amicus brief in support of overturning the Appeals Court's decision. Given the devastating nature of the decision, we rallied our members and friends (40 in all!) to sign on to the brief so we could present a strong, unified, statewide voice to the Supreme Court of Ohio about the importance of overturning it. The brief was submitted to the Supreme Court of Ohio on February 27, and we will keep you updated as we hear more.

Note: While we wait for the Supreme Court process to play out, a legislative fix will also be pursued that will define companion animals as, "any animal that is kept in a residential dwelling and any dog or cat."

Member Benefit: 

If members would like to receive legislative updates as they happen, please email and ask to be added to the list for advocacy alerts.


Have you checked out our redesigned Resources page yet? The content is now clearly divided into sections for Ohio Resources, National Resources, Law Enforcement and Shelter Operations. Is there a resource you use that isn't listed? Let us know!


Both the Ohio Animal Cruelty Law Enforcement Manual and the Ohio Animal Law Handbook are being updated and the 2024 versions should be ready by mid-March.

Both resources were developed as reference guides for humane agents and other law enforcement officers. Visit the Law Enforcement section of our Resources page for details. 

Member Benefit: Members receive a discount on both products. 


Shelters across the country are in crisis mode facing increasing intake and overcrowding, resulting from:

  • surrendered family pets due to the current housing crisis and restrictions;
  • rising veterinary costs creating a financial barrier to access to care for pet owners; and
  • veterinary shortages leaving shelters without veterinarians to spay/neuter their pets before adoption.

BISSELL Pet Foundation is on a mission to change the pet overpopulation issue by making spay and neuter possible for shelter pets and pet owners who desperately need help. 

Through their Fix the Future program, BISSELL Pet Foundation sends high-volume vets to shelters to help them catch up or address community needs. They pay the day rate on the veterinarian and the shelter pays their travel and lodging. The goal is to have vets that are close by the requesting shelters to keep costs as low as possible.

Several Ohio Fed members have had success with the program, and wanted to share the availability of this program with others! Click here for additional information on Fix the Future and how it may help your shelter and community. If you want to speak to an Ohio Fed member who has used the program, let us know and we will connect you!


In an effort to support our members with their continuing education needs, Ohio Fed is offering to cover up to $250 of the registration fee to a (non-Ohio Fed) conference of your choice. Use this form to tell us about the conference you want to attend, and how attending will help you help animals in Ohio. We will select ONE person to support PER conference, until our scholarship budget is depleted for the year. If chosen you will be asked to share something you learned from the conference in the next issue of our Quarterly e-News!


Organizational members of the Ohio Animal Welfare Federation are eligible for these special PetPoint discounts:

  • 50% discount on new client on-boarding fee (retail ranges from $500-$1,500) 

  • $5.95 for standard microchips on orders of 100+ (retail is $6.35) 

  • $6.63 for 15-gauge chips on orders of 500+ (retail is $7.95) 

Ask your PetPoint representative for details! 




During the first quarter of 2024 we welcomed the Carroll County Humane Society as a new member of Ohio Fed and the Toledo Humane Society as a rejoined member. We greatly appreciate their support.

Click here for a list of all organizational members.

Do you work with a shelter or other animal welfare organization that isn't on the list? Please encourage them to check us out!


Did you know that when you renew your membership you can contribute additional dues dollars to help offset the membership dues of an under-resourced shelter/organization? A donation of $75 to the Dues Assistance Fund covers one year of membership for an organization with an operating budget of $250,000 or less. Please consider contributing if you can!


  • Rachel D.K. Finney resigned her position as CEO of Columbus Humane after 16 years. Her passion for both people and animals inspired her to achieve many major accomplishments, such as the opening of the first-of-its-kind Essential Care Center on the south end of Columbus in 2023, which provides low-cost vet care, a pet food pantry and veterinary workforce development opportunities. Rachel also created a Safe Haven for Pets Program, oversaw a major renovation of the shelter in Hilliard, and grew Columbus Humane's animal cruelty department to the largest program in the state. Her transition is effective on or before June 30. 
Rachel has been in the animal welfare field since 2003 and has served on the Ohio Fed Board of Directors since 2005, most recently as vice president. Her long tenure and devotion to the mission of Ohio Fed has helped shape Ohio Fed into what it is today: an effective statewide membership organization welcoming all who serve the animal welfare field in Ohio. We wish Rachel the absolute best in her next endeavor! 
  • Diane Johnson-Owens, who has served on the Ohio Fed Board of Directors since 2022, retired from her position as Executive Director of the Humane Society of Summit County in February. She had been with the organization since 2015 and during her time oversaw the relocation of their facility from Twinburg to Cuyahoga Falls. Diane's legal background and knowledge of animal welfare were wonderful assets to the Ohio Fed Board and she will be missed.

  • Hamilton County welcomed a new Chief Dog Warden. Welcome to Ohio Fed, Beth Ward! 

  • After studying the concept for two years, the Humane Association of Warren County - Ohio recently closed their kennels to the public. Initial response from the community was mixed, with some understanding the “why” and others threatening to pull their support. Despite the mixed reviews, they forged ahead on February 5 and so far, the change has been positive: weekly adoptions are up or at least maintaining, and people are appreciative of the more personalized adoption process involving discussions with adoption counselors and “Bark Books” that include bios and photos of adoptable dogs.


    Perhaps the best part is that now that their kennels are predominately quiet throughout the day, they have seen a drastic reduction in chronic diarrhea; dogs who were previously on behavior meds are now being considered for weaning; and play groups are easier. Their pups are generally happier and more relaxed.

    Do you have news to share? Click here to submit your news for the next issue.



    Member Benefit: Ohio Fed members receive discounted registration fees on all of our educational programs.


    This email was sent to you by the Ohio Animal Welfare Federation
    Phone: 614-270-8030, Address: P.O. Box 21328, Columbus, OH 43221

    Email us