After an Ashtabula County woman was mauled in her own home by a captive black bear Monday, it’s obvious that Ohio’s laws regulating wild animal breeders must be tightened.
The 500-pound bear escaped its pen at a business that breeds and sells wild animals and attacked a neighbor in her home. The bear was eventually shot and killed by its owner. The woman was hospitalized for her injuries.
The breeding facility is also home to wild foxes, mountain lions, coyotes and bobcats.
This isn’t an isolated incident.
On Wednesday, a fire at the home of an exotic farm owner near Akron killed two tiger cubs, two bear cubs and an iguana. A Summit County judge had ordered the man to remove all of his animals in 2003 because he had not effectively dealt with waste and odor, but a higher court later voided the decision.
In 1983, the man’s 2-year-old son was mauled to death by a Bengal tiger. The father was charged with involuntary manslaughter, but the charges were later dropped.
In 2005, a pet macaque monkey escaped from a cage in Noble County, Ohio, jumped into a truck, bit the driver and then fled. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, macaques carry Hepatitis B virus, making them unsuitable as pets.
There is no question that animals such as lions, tigers and bears are dangerous. They should never be kept as pets. If the state is going to allow breeding facilities such as the one in Ashtabula County – and we have our doubts whether such facilities should even be allowed – they should be tightly regulated. The neighbors of such facilities should never have to live in fear that they – or their children – might be attacked in their own home by a wild animal.
According to the Associated Press, Ohio law doesn’t require cages or fences to seclude wild animals owned by breeders, though state wildlife officials have asked for such regulations for years. Attempts to toughen the laws have repeatedly failed.
The AP found that 57 businesses – almost all of them in northeastern Ohio, hold breeding permits for 137 black bears.
We call upon our lawmakers to act now to tighten regulations on animal breeders. Does someone have to die before they will toughen the laws?
For the cats,
Carole Baskin, CEO of Big Cat Rescue
an Educational Sanctuary home
to more than 100 big cats
12802 Easy Street Tampa, FL 33625
813.493.4564 fax 885.4457
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