Good News for Big Cats and Other Exotics in Ohio
On Dec. 20 2012, U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Ohio Eastern Division upheld Ohio's new exotic animal law ( S.B. 310, the Ohio Dangerous Wild Animal Act) after owners sued the state over supposed constitutional concerns. The law was enacted last year after a Zanesville man released an entire menagerie of exotic "pets"-- including 38 big cats -- before committing suicide, wreaking havoc on the town and on the safety of all beings involved.
Thankfully, U.S. District Court Judge George Smith sided with the state, reasoning that the owners failed to prove constitutional rights were violated, and that the case came down to the public interest and protecting the public from potential dangers of exotic animals.
It also comes down to commonsense and long overdue restrictions on private possession of dangerous wild animals. Wild animals never should be kept as "pets" in the first place, and when they are, it is to the detriment of animal welfare, public safety, and taxpayer expense.
While Ohio's new law is necessary, constitutional, and a step in the right direction, this issue is far from totally resolved. We need a nationwide standard on private possession of big cats. It’s hard to believe that only 28 states have enacted full bans on private ownership of big cats, and that virtually all of those states exempt people who hold USDA licenses (many of whom are just pet owners abusing the system). Seven states overlook the issue of private possession of big cats entirely. There could be as many as 20,000 big cats being held as pets by private owners in the U.S., but they are entirely unaccounted for. This is an unacceptable and terrifying possibility.
The Big Cats and Public Safety Protection Act would finally give relief to the thousands of big cats bred and kept as pets within the U.S. IFAW is working with Reps. Howard ‘Buck’ McKeon (R-CA) and Loretta Sanchez (D-CA) and Senator John Kerry (D-MA) to pass the Big Cats and Public Safety Protection Act this session of Congress. Please support the Big Cats and Public Safety Protection Act and stay tuned for exciting information on its reintroduction and progress in the 113th Congress!