Urgent Calls for Stronger Rules on Exotic Animals

Urgent Calls for Stronger Rules on Exotic Animals

Posted: 20 Oct 2011 04:04 PM PDT

Take action here for stronger rules in Ohio.

There was international coverage of the shooting and killing of nearly 50 dangerous exotic animals after their owner, a convicted felon, released them into the communities around Zanesville, Ohio, and then killed himself.

There were no other human casualties, but all but a handful of the animals are dead. The images of dead bears, lions, tigers, and wolves strewn out in an open field were deeply disturbing. The ultimate responsibility for their deaths rests mainly with the man who released them, but also with the Ohio political leaders through the years who haven’t had the foresight or fortitude to adopt policies to prevent this sort of calamity. Time and again, they’ve bowed to the strident voices within the exotic animal community who have demanded deregulation and argued that it’s their right to have any animal they want.

As it has in the past, the Columbus Dispatch weighed in on the controversy and, like The HSUS, demanded immediate action:

“Ohio has among the most-lax regulations in the country governing the ownership of exotic animals, and that must change—and soon…Owners of primates, large snakes and big cats might argue that this is a matter of personal freedom, but freedom doesn’t extend to putting others in harm’s way. In this case, owning such animals, many of which are out of their natural climate and habitat, is cruel to the creatures and dangerous to the owners and their neighbors.”

Gov. Kasich must write and implement an emergency rule right away. You can take action here in support of stronger rules.

But it’s not just Ohio that has failed to handle this problem. Alabama, Nevada, North Carolina, South Carolina, Wisconsin, and West Virginia also have essentially no restrictions on owning animals such as lions and tigers, primates, wolves, and dangerous reptiles. Thirteen other states are barely better, requiring some minor permit requirements for possessing these animals. There are only 18 states plus the District of Columbia that have pretty comprehensive rules against private individuals keeping these exotic animals, while 12 other states ban keeping some of the dangerous species. We’ve compiled a map of state regulations so you can see whether your state might allow your neighbor to keep a tiger in his backyard or a chimpanzee in her home. It’s time to demand that state lawmakers and executive agencies take action to crack down on these problems.

And it’s time for the federal government to handle the problem, too. The Obama administration is delaying action on a rule to ban the import and interstate trade of large constricting snakes. It’s obvious that people in the administration are getting cold feet because of the complaints of the reptile owners lobby and their allies in the pet trade. In addition to the suffering endured by the animals who are unable to express natural behaviors, it’s the sort of governmental hedging and weakness that results in more dead animals and perhaps more human casualties.

State exotic map

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