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ASPCA calls on Ohio to restrict sales, ownership of dangerous exotic animals

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Oct 20, 2011
By dvm360.com staff
Zanesville, Ohio—The American Society of Protection of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) called yesterday’s killing of escaped exotics here a "horrific incident" and called on Ohio's Governor John Kasich to issue an emergency order restricting the sale and possession of exotic animals.

As reported by DVM Newsmagazine, four veterinarians were called in to help police contain dozens of dangerous exotic animals after escaping from a local exotic-animal preserve. The owner of the preserve was found dead at the scene and was believed to have opened the cages. Most of the animals -- lions, tigers, cheetahs, bears, wolves, monkeys and others -- were killed by law enforcement due to the threat to the public. Police estimated that 48 to 51 animals were kept at the preserve.

Two veterinarians from the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium and two veterinarians from The Wilds, a 10,000-acre conservation center in Cumberland, Ohio, were asked by local law enforcement to help deputies contain the exotic animals, says Patty Peters, vice president of community relations for the Columbus Zoo. Famed animal handler Jack Hanna, director emeritus at the Columbus Zoo, also was on the scene.

Ohio is currently one of only eight states that do not regulate private ownership of exotic animals, ASPCA contends. The Humane Society of the United States echoed the call for action in a statement yesterday.

“We urge Gov. Kasich to issue an emergency order to ensure the safety of Ohio residents, as well as the health and well-being of exotic animals kept as pets,” says Nancy Perry, senior vice president of ASPCA Government Relations. "This tragic incident may well have been avoided had the previous emergency order issued by former Gov. Ted Strickland not been permitted to expire in April," she says.

"While the animals pay the ultimate price, local governments and taxpayers are left to bear the enormous fiscal burden when dangerous wild animals are set loose or escape, or when they are seized due to neglect."