Ohio Senate passes bill to restrict big cats as pets

UPDATE: The Ohio Dangerous Wild Animal Act was signed into law on June 5, 2012 by Governor John Kasich. Ohio now joins the majority of states in restricitng private ownership of dangerous wildlife.

Yesterday, the Ohio Senate voted 30-1 in favor of a bill aimed at addressing the problem of unregulated big cats and other dangerous animals throughout the state. 

The bill would not totally ban the ownership of big cats as pets, which is what a statewide task force formed by Ohio Gov. John Kasich recommended following the incident in Zanesville, OH, where the owner of a backyard menagerie of big cats and other wild animals opened his gates before killing himself. 

The bill would, however, better regulate current owners, and prohibit many big cats from falling victim to unscrupulous or ill-prepared owners in the future. 

Next step for the bill is the Ohio House of Representative, where legislation is also pending on dangerous big cats and other animals as pets.  Unfortunately, the House bill is already weaker than the bill that passed the Senate yesterday. 

So, it remains to be seen whether Ohio will join the 27 states that have already taken strong action against big cats in private possession or remain in the group of states with little to no regulations at all. 

What is clear is that a nationwide solution is needed.  Luckily, the U.S. Congress always does the right thing…right?


-- PT

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