By: N Gilbert
Nitro. A beautiful family owned Rottweiler. Nitro was taken to a K9 training facility that his family thought was legitimate. Here is his story:
(via Nitro's Law Facebook page)
Nitro lived the typical suburbia New York life with his doting family and litter mate, Bella. A family that cooked scrambled eggs for breakfast for them, labored with love on sewing holiday costumes, including them as members of their family in celebrations, vacations, and the many activities of life; a life any dog would be fortunate to live. It was obvious from the beginning, Nitro was the classic, determined Rottie with a high working drive and High Caliber K9 came highly recommended through Nitro's breeder as a positive outlet and focus for him to be the best dog he could be.
Steven S. Croley, the owner of High Caliber K9 appeared to be the charismatic, gifted dog whisperer and Nitro's family did all the necessary tasks ensuring his background was genuine and without blemish, including an 8 hour drive to be guests of Croley at his facility with impressive results. For 2.5 years a successful working relationship and bond soon developed with Croley and naturally a friendship quickly followed including social engagements and outings with all the makings of a trusted alliance.
When a critical medical emergency developed, Nitro's family found themselves in a dilemma of commuting for long periods of time back and forth to New Jersey putting a strain on the pets in their home. Nitro being highly protective proved this to be increasingly stressful on him.
Croley's facility and program of a summer dog camp seemed to be the perfect solution. Not only would he be safe with someone they thought they knew and trusted but Nitro could also work on his training in a secure and safe environment. Nitro was a very reserved dog and not inclined to trust easily and naturally any lingering doubts they might have had regarding Croley had dissolved long ago, since Nitro thrived in Croley's presence and on his doting attention. This combined with their successful 2.5-year history with Croley only reinforced he was trustworthy. They would never have thought in a million years they could and would be so utterly and devastatingly wrong.
On October 22, 2008 a so called "elite" dog training facility 'High Caliber K9' in Youngstown, Ohio was raided. Steven S. Croley owner & trainer of High Caliber was arrested, charged and convicted on just 4 misdemeanor infractions for starving 19 dogs, 8 of which died.
A total of 19 dogs suffered extreme starvation and 8 of them lost their lives; 1 Rottweiler, 3 Doberman Pinschers, 1 American Pit Bull Terrier, 1 Border Collie, and 2 German Shepherds. Each of these dogs had families and bright futures. They came from all over the United States and abroad for elite K9 training as law enforcement K9s & service assistance K9s, only to end up starved to death in their kennels at High Caliber. The owners of these dogs paid fortunes to ensure their care, only to have them suffer depraved acts of cruelty and neglect.
High Caliber K9 training facility, portrayed a clean, well-kept K9 facility where one family was assured their much-prized Rottweiler "Nitro" would receive only the best in specialized K9 training.
This was not Nitro's first visit to High Caliber but sadly it would end up being his last.
(Pictured to the right is Nitro, after being murdered by Croley - WARNING, GRAPHIC. Don't look at it if you can't handle it!)
Croley's many different versions of his account of what took place are not only conflicting but unclear and to this day he has yet to openly acknowlege his self-absorbed criminal actions and remorse for the unspeakable suffering which he was responsible for. The suffering of these dogs was not out of sight and out of mind; Croley lived on the same property of the kennels and the training area was his own backyard. His meticulous care of facility grounds always displayed freshly-cut grass even while dead and decaying carcasses of dogs were contained in the unseen facility kennels located at the back of the property. Alleged drug use is reported to have been the motivating factor in robbing these dogs of the basic necessities of life with the money paid to ensure their care instead being used to feed an alleged drug addiction.
Courtesy of Ohio's outdated and antiquated laws, a further crime and travesty of justice occurred after the original crime; Croley was originally charged on 19 counts of animal cruelty for starving 19 dogs, 8 of which died with only misdemeanor penalties regardless of the severity of this horrendous crime. However, due to a legal technicality 15 of those original 19 charges were dropped and Nitro's life was one of them. Croley was charged on just 4 counts of misdemeanor animal cruelty and was granted a plea bargain sentencing him to only 4 months in county jail with 13 days credited already having been served. He was released on Mother's Day 2009.
In February 2009 HB 70 'Nitro's Law' was introduced and passed the Ohio House of Representatives and was assigned to the Ohio Senate's Criminal Justice Commitee for consideration and for nearly 1 year this landmark Bill was grossly ignored by the Ohio Senate and on December 31, 2010, Nitro's Law legislative window of opportunity ran out. House Bill 108 has been reintroduced as of 02/22/11 by the original Ohio Representatives Gerberry & Hagan and round 2 has now begun.
Currently there is a large legal uproar with Nitro's Law. Even though it has already passed, there are still some people who are not for it, therefore holding it up in court! If the law doesn't indeed pass completely by December 31, 2012, animal abuse will remain only a misdemeanor in Ohio. The bill would make certain egregious forms of animal cruelty a felony. Right now in Ohio animal abuse in any form is only a misdemeanor. This means no jail time, often no fines, and nothing on the records for future employers.
The Nitro Foundation currently urges the residents of Ohio, as well as the rest of the population, to contact the Senate in Ohio. They have several names, emails, and telephone numbers listed on their website as well as their Facebook Page of the people whom you can contact. If Nitro's Law is fully passed, then it will be a great day for Ohio and all the animals in it! The abuse that Nitro and the other 7 dogs suffered is atrocious, despicable, disgusting, and horrid. NO animal should EVER have to endure what he and the others did. Steven Croley is not only a murderer, but a sociopathic disgrace to humans everywhere. He has no pity for what he did, and due to his punishment that he received, he NEVER will! If we continue to allow our court systems and congressmen to allow animal abuse, especially ones of this nature, to go on and not speak up for the voiceless, we are slightly to blame as well. Punishments on this matter need to be severe and not little time outs in the corner.
We can't continue to allow these types of people to use excuses such as "drugs, alcohol, illnesses, etc." as part of the reasons they commit such a horrible act of violence and murder. Just because it's an animal, doesn't mean they should get a small punishment. Animals are in fact living creatures, they bleed and feel pain just like we do, only they cannot speak or cry out. They don't rationalize like us, so therefore they do not understand what is happening to them or why. People that can purposely abuse, injure, murder and an animal are VERY capable of hurting a human too, and in that case, it may turn out worse! We ALL need to stand together and demand that harsher penalties be given to abusers, especially of this nature. Remember, we are the voice for the voiceless. We can make a difference!
For more information, please visit The Nitro Foundation's website at: http://www.nitrofoundation.com/
or the Nitro's Law Facebook page at: https://www.facebook.com/nitroslaw.
We CAN stop this madness if WE ALL stick together! Please, make a difference today!!!