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