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Ohio Rule Issued to Prohibit Dangerous Wild Animals as Pets

COLUMBUS, Ohio — The Humane Society of the United States applauds Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland for issuing an executive order that prohibits keeping dangerous wild animals as pets. The rule bans new private ownership of big cats, bears, primates, alligators, crocodiles, and particularly large and dangerous constricting snakes and venomous snakes. Individuals who currently possess these animals and who have never had their licenses revoked may keep them, but they must register with the state and microchip the animals. They cannot replace them once they die or are relinquished.

Ohio was one of fewer than 10 states with virtually no regulation of private ownership of dangerous wild animals. Private citizens generally cannot provide the sophisticated care these animals require in captivity.

“Dangerous wild animals do not belong in the backyards and basements of private citizens,” said Wayne Pacelle, president and CEO of The HSUS. “It’s bad for the animals and dangerous for people. This emergency order is good for Ohio, and we look forward to seeing it implemented in the months ahead.”

“I want to sincerely thank Governor Ted Strickland for signing the executive order banning exotic animal ownership by private citizens in the state of Ohio,” said Deirdre Herbert, whose son, Brent Kandra, was killed in August 2010 after being mauled by a bear owned by notorious exotic animal owner Sam Mazzola. “I believe that this valuable executive order will not only prevent other families from suffering the tragedy and loss as my family has experienced, but is also a humane act towards these majestic animals.”


The recommendation to ban private ownership of dangerous wild animals was part of an agreement made in July 2010 among The Humane Society of the United States, Ohioans for Humane Farms, Ohio agriculture leaders and Gov. Strickland. The agreement also addressed factory farming, puppy mills and animal fighting, and put a planned ballot initiative on hold.

In 2009, The HSUS named Ohio as having some of the weakest exotic pet laws in the nation because it had no statewide restrictions on owning exotic pets. As a result, Ohio has become a center for breeding and selling wild and exotic animals.

Wild animals kept as pets in Ohio have killed and injured several people in the last few years. In addition to the tragic death of Brent Kandra in 2010, an Ohio man was killed by his pet python in 2006. That same year, a 500-pound bear escaped from an animal breeder, entered a neighboring home and attacked a woman. Two people were killed in 2004 and 2003 by venomous snakes kept as pets.

The Ohio Livestock Care Standards Board is making steady progress toward adopting all five agricultural elements of the June 2010 agreement. We expect legislation to be introduced in the Ohio legislature to strengthen the law against cockfighting and to set humane breeding standards for large-scale, commercial dog-breeding operations.

Follow The HSUS on Twitter. See our work for animals on your iPhone by searching “HumaneTV” in the App Store.

The Humane Society of the United States is the nation’s largest animal protection organization — backed by 11 million Americans, or one of every 28. For more than a half-century, The HSUS has been fighting for the protection of all animals through advocacy, education and hands-on programs. Celebrating animals and confronting cruelty — On the Web at

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