The HSUS Asks Ohio Court to Uphold Exotic Pet Law Enacted in Response to Zanesville Tragedy

The Humane Society of the United States filed a motion to intervene with the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Ohio Eastern Division, to ask the court to uphold much-needed state restrictions on the possession of dangerous wild animals as pets.  Some exotic pet owners and breeders who have fought commonsense restrictions for decades are challenging the newly-enacted law.

“By challenging these new requirements, these exotic pet owners and breeders have made it clear that they have no interest in abiding by commonsense restrictions on the keeping of these dangerous wild animals,” said Karen Minton, Ohio state director for The HSUS. “There should never again be a crisis like the one in Zanesville, and powerful wild animals should never be kept in someone’s backyard or basement as pets. The reckless individuals who created this very problem in the first place should not be allowed to put public safety and animal welfare further at risk, and put the financial burden on Ohio taxpayers and private groups to clean up their mess.”

The new law, S.B. 310, the Ohio Dangerous Wild Animal Act, sponsored by Sen. Troy Balderson, R-Zanesville, was enacted following several incidents relating to dangerous wild animals in Ohio, including the October 2011 Zanesville tragedy in which nearly 50 large animals, including tigers, grizzly bears and lions, were released from their cages by their owner into a residential community, and subsequently killed by law enforcement scurrying to protect public safety. The HSUS strongly supports the efforts of Gov. John Kasich, Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine, and the Ohio Department of Agriculture to implement and enforce the new law.

The new law generally prohibits future private acquisition of dangerous wild animals, including big cats, some smaller exotic cats, bears, hyenas, gray wolves, primates, alligators and crocodiles. Current owners may keep their animals as long as they register and obtain a permit from the Ohio Department of Agriculture.  In addition, the Act requires existing owners to obtain liability insurance, comply with housing and safety standards, once established, and comply with additional measures to protect public safety.

With the passage of the Ohio Dangerous Wild Animal Act, which went into effect on Sept. 5, only six states remain with little to no restrictions on the private possession of dangerous wild animals: Alabama, Nevada, North Carolina, West Virginia, South Carolina and Wisconsin.

The Humane Society of the United States is represented by McTigue & McGinnis LLC and lawyers with the The HSUS’ Animal Protection Litigation section.

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