Ohio Governor Addresses Exotic Animal Ownership Issues by LawCrossing


Following last week’s fiasco brought on by the escape of a number of privately-owned wild animals, Ohio’s governor had no option but to respond to the situation.

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Ohio Governor Addresses Exotic Animal Ownership Issues
By Teresa Cajot

Following last week’s fiasco brought on by the escape of a number of privately-owned wild animals, Ohio’s governor had no option
but to respond to the situation. On Friday Governor John Kasick signed an executive order, assuring the state’s residents that current
animal-ownership laws would be better enforced and new ones established.

According to existing state laws, the inhumane treatment of           The animal’s owner, Terry Thompson, set the animals free and
any animal warrants confiscation of that animal and the arrest        then shot himself on his property near Zanesville. According
of the owner. However, according to Kasick, oftentimes the            to documents released on Friday, Thompson’s animals were
abuse of large exotic animals is overlooked because officials         abused and neglected. They were housed in dilapidated and
lack the resources to care for the animal once they seize it.         cramped structures, some of which were not even covered
In an effort to remove this obstacle, the state has agreed to         by a roof. Food, water, and shade were in scarce supply and
collaborate with zoos to re-home any animals that are not             injuries were left untreated.
receiving adequate care. He has further requested that the
Ohio Department of Natural Resources establish a hot line for         According to documents, authorities received dozens of
individuals to report animal abuse and ultimately hopes to set        complaints about the farm throughout the years. In 2008,
limits on the auction of exotic animals.                              authorities reportedly discovered a number of abuses and
                                                                      public safety issues including cages secured only by plastic
Existing laws allow state residents to keep bears and other           ties, lions and tigers housed in dog kennels, cages with
species that are native to the state, as long as they are             rotting carcasses, and enclosures blanketed with urine and
registered with the Department of Natural Resources. Due to           feces. Numerous complaints of animals on the loose were also
the fact that there are no laws on the books regarding the            documented.
possession of non-native species, Kasich has requested that
the state’s department of natural resources establish a plan          A group that is calling for an end to the private ownership
for legislative change by the end of next month.                      of dangerous animals claims that there are numerous other
                                                                      farms in similar conditions within the Zanesville area alone.
The issue of exotic animal ownership and abuse emerged as             On Friday, the Humane Society of the United States asserted
a critical issue on Tuesday when Muskingum County officials           that the order signed by Kasich fails to address the core issues
were forced to deal with 56 animals that were released from a         of the exotic animal trade in Ohio. “The Humane Society of
backyard zoo. In an effort to protect public safety one baboon,       the United States agrees with him that the legislature should
two wolves, two grizzly bears, three mountain lions, six black        enact a statute that addresses the problem, but in the interim,
bears, eight lionesses, nine male lions, and 18 Bengal tigers         we need an executive order that bans the sale and acquisition
were gunned down. One grizzly bear, two monkeys, and three            of dangerous wild animals as pets or roadside attractions,”
leopards were captured and are in Columbus Zoo custody. One           said Wayne Pacelle, president and CEO of the animal
monkey is believed to have been eaten by one of the big cats.         protection organization.

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