MIDDLETOWN, Ohio — Evie’s death changed everything for Katherine Hartung, she said Wednesday night.
Joseph’s Legacy rescued the fluffy mixed-breed and rehabilitated her after she was found abandoned, flea-infested and injured. Once her physical recovery was complete, they placed her in an animal-assisted therapy program at Warren Correctional Institution to help her develop better obedience skills before — they hoped — finding a forever home.
A prisoner beat her to death during a visit.
“There are more and more cases like that,” Hartung, who was Evie's foster mother as well as a legal advocate for Joseph’s Legacy, said. “I believe it’s on the rise, and it’s definitely something we need to get a handle on. Legislators certainly need to help, and I really think they’re stepping up their game.”
Those legislators include state Rep. Sarah Carruthers, who on Feb. 12 introduced a bill that would create a mandatory reporting system for animal abuse.
If House Bill 33 were passed, veterinarians and social service workers would be required to report suspected animal abuse the same way others are required to report any suspected abuse of children, vulnerable adults and the elderly.
Any mandatory reporter who neglected to do so in a case where abuse was later proven could be fined up to $500.
“I think getting the veterinarians hand-in-hand with everyone else, I think it’s a huge step, I really do,” Carruthers said Wednesday. “(Animals) don’t have a voice for themselves. That’s what I’m here for.”
HB 33 might not have saved Evie, who was the victim of a one-time attack. However, her death provided the impetus for Joseph’s Legacy to become more involved in seeking legislative solutions to cruelty against animals like her.
"I promised that it might have been at her expense, but it wouldn't be in vain,” Hartung said. “We've fought hard ever since."