(Cleveland) A law that will stiffen the penalties for abusing companion animals in Ohio is moving forward after it passed the State House of Representatives on Wednesday. House Bill 274 is named "Goddard's Law" after long-time Cleveland Meteorologist Dick Goddard who says the measure passed overwhelmingly in the House by an 89-8 margin.

Goddard says the Senate could vote on the law by as early as next month. The main sponsor of the legislation is Rep. Bill Patmon of Cleveland. An amendmant was added that would remove "accidental negligence" from the felony category. That change would exclude someone from a felony charge if they accidentally allow a companion animal to die while in their care.

One hold-out to getting this legislation and similar legislation on animal abuse penalties passed are rural farmers. Goddard says "I understand 7 times this legislation has been brought forward, and the farm element says "we can't treat our farm animals as you would a dog or a cat that lives with you.""

If passed the bill would automatically make it a felony if a companion animal dies in your care. Right now Ohio ranks 46th out of 50 states when it comes to penalties for animal abuse.

Goddard also reminds pet owners on these cold days to bring outside pets indoors and give them plenty of food and water.

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