Northeast Ohio animal rights activist Dick Goddard will join fellow supporters of stricter animal cruelty laws at a rally on Public Square April 1.
The Rally for Reform will kick off Animal Cruelty Awareness Month and immediately precede the federal trial of Raymone Clements, the man accused of chaining a dog to a tree and shooting him in Forest Hill Park.
Clements pleaded not guilty to charges of illegal possession of a firearm and ammunition by a felon, according to The Plain Dealer.
The ammunition charge carries a greater sentence if Clements is convicted than his original animal cruelty charge, which was dropped after his federal indictment.
"I feel that Forrest really handed [Clements] to them on a silver platter and now he’s not even a part of it," Robin Stone, who adopted the dog, said.
"The part of it that is absolutely the worst part of the crime, which is shooting an animal, is dropped, but he’s going to go away for having bullets?" Stone said.
Animal cruelty is a second-degree misdemeanor in Ohio and carries a maximum penalty of 90 days in jail.
"If animal cruelty were a felony in Ohio, we wouldn't need the ammunitions charge," said Stone.
Now Forrest has become a mascot for efforts in Ohio by PAWS and other animal rights activists to make animal cruelty a felony in Ohio.
Stone and the Public Animal Welfare Society of Cleveland are reaching out to animal advocates, shelters and other interested parties across Ohio to join forces and support the comprehensive law they hope will pass this year, and they want to see 1,000 people at the Rally for Reform.
The rally begins at 7:30 a.m. April 1 on Public Square. Find more details on Forrest’s Facebook page.
Clements, 42, of Cleveland, is not allowed to own guns or ammunitions because he has previous convictions in the Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas for rape in 2006, drug trafficking in 2003 and aggravated robbery in 1991, according to his indictment.
He faces between 19 and 24 years in prison if he is convicted.
Though Clements was originally charged in local courts for animal cruelty and weapons charges, those charges were dropped in lieu of his federal prosecution.
Clements is accused of chaining Forrest, a bull mastiff, to a tree on Nov. 25 in Forest Hill Park, firing at him four times and hitting him twice.
Forrest was later found by a professional dog walker and rescued by PAWS. Then he was adopted into a Solon home.