Just when you think you have heard the worst…

Thompson’s attorney: ODA making reckless accusations


Thompson exotic animals not coming home Wedneday: The Columbus Zoo and Marian Thompson are still working out details on how to return her five exotic animals to her Muskingum County farm.
 ZANESVILLE — In another effort to appeal the exotic animals case against Marian Thompson, the Ohio Department of Agriculture sent a scathing letter to her attorney using a media account of farm conditions — not official sheriff reports — to make the claim the Thompson property is not safe for animals.

Marian’s attorney, Robert McClelland, said he not only didn’t appreciate what he considers an attack on his integrity, but he also called ODA’s attempt unfounded.

Meanwhile, Gov. John Kasich’s office says it has handed local officials evidence needed to intervene at the Thompson farm before exotic animals are returned there. The office provided the local humane society what it considers evidence for it to act: affidavits from people who were on the farm six months ago.

It all is part of a continuing saga involving a private owner of exotic animals, state officials who say it’s a local issue and local officials who are questioning where the state was before Oct. 18 and why it is presenting months-old documentation now.

Another try

David T. Daniels, ODA director, sent a letter Tuesday to McClelland in which it cites a media account that law enforcement officers have been called 13 times regarding horses on the Thompson farm since Oct. 18. The letter does not state any other source but this account.

The ODA letter states, “These animal escapes stand in stark contrast to your representations that the dangerous animals returning to the Thompson farm will be kept secure and the public will be safe from harm. These escapes also confirm what we have feared all along — that the Thompson farm is not secure and our ongoing concerns about public safety and humane animal care are eminently justified.”

The Times Recorder requested the reports from the Muskingum County Sheriff Office, which show 13 calls for service for horses being on the loose. In five of those instances, officers noted horses were loose. In the other eight cases, the horses either were noted as put away or loose horses were not found. There were five incidents in November, four in December and four in January.

“Without an investigation, the ODA is making reckless accusations and doubting my integrity,” McClelland said when reached by the Times Recorder late Tuesday. “That’s unjust, especially with everything they’ve put Marian through. That letter is without merit and deserves no further comment.”

The letter references previous communication between ODA and McClelland where McClelland had stated the farm had the necessary cages to house the animals if they were returned there.

Terry Thompson released 56 exotic animals Oct. 18, and the ODA has expressed its concerns that if the five remaining animals — two primates, two leopards and a bear –are returned, they will pose a danger to the public if they get loose.

In the letter, Daniels tells McClelland that although McClelland has asserted the exotic animals will be properly caged, the horses running free is because of an unsecured perimeter.

ODA lifted the quarantine on the animals Monday, but it’s not known when Marian will retrieve them from the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium. It also is not known if she is bringing them to Zanesville, although state officials think she is, based on communications with McClelland about the farm.

Daniels again asks that McClelland work with his office and the local authorities to allow an inspection of the farm, the cages to be used and the perimeter of the property be secured.

Humane society role

As ODA appeals to McClelland, the Ohio governor’s office is appealing to the Muskingum County Humane Society.

A letter was sent this past week from Kasich’s office to Patty McNutt, humane society board member, stating that since the humane society is dedicated to preventing animal cruelty and abuse, the organization should be urging a judge to issue a warrant allowing humane officers on the property.

Connie Wehrkamp, a spokeswoman for Kasich’s office, said state law gives humane officers the power to prevent animal abuse along with the ability to request a warrant to carry out its enforcement authority, which is broad and includes its efforts to inspect facilities to prevent animal abuse.

David Durst, county humane officer, said he thinks Marian Thompson, who has completely cooperated with him in the past, will be willing to cooperate with him.

Durst said he never has been in contact with Kasich outside of a phone call this past week, which when he returned, he was asked to give his email address.

“Not only have I never been in contact with his office, but I’ve not been in the loop since this entire situation happened back in October,” Durst said. “I haven’t talked to the prosecutor’s office or the sheriff. No one has contacted me. But I’ll do what the law allows me to do.”

Durst said his office has investigated the Thompsons in the past for treatment of the horses on the property and all complaints, the most recent in January, have been unfounded.

“We went with vets from the Columbus Zoo in 2008 when a complaint was filed on the exotics and were told things were just fine,” Durst said.

Previous action

Barry McElfresh, humane society president, said after inspectors were at the Thompson farm in 2008, no one was in contact with him regarding the animals until this past October.

In 2008, a complaint was filed with the humane society against Terry Thompson regarding the treatment of his exotic and domestic animals, but no charges were filed.

At that time, the Muskingum County prosecutor said an exhaustive and extensive investigation had taken place at the Thompson farm that included representatives from the Columbus Zoo, the local humane society and a number of veterinarians, who all found nothing wrong.

“We’ve tried to take care of things,” McElfresh said. “But up until October, no one felt it was a problem.”

Erica Pitchford, ODA spokeswoman, said the ODA’s concerns also are regarding the care and treatment of the animals, citing depositions and testimony by zoo employees, employees of the Ohio Department of Natural Resources and those of The Wilds who were on the Thompson property the day after the animals had to be killed by sheriff’s deputies in October.

“The conditions were deplorable,” Pitchford said. “It was unbelievable to the people that were there. We don’t want the animals to be confined in cages too small. We want them to be taken care of.”

McElfresh said by law, Marian Thompson is required to provide shelter, water and food for the animals.

“Outside of that, right now, the way the law states, I can do nothing unless she doesn’t provide all that,” McElfresh said. “We have no jurisdiction regarding the caging. I believe that Marian is going to make every effort she can to make sure those animals are not only well cared for, but confined in the correct manner. She knows she’s being watched. Unless she breaks the law, there’s not much I can do.”
I hope that someone or an organization will step in and help Marian Thompson have the swift return of her animals and that she and the animals can LEAVE OHIO…Apparently, this governor is a complete ass and he and Governor Perry of Texas came from the same mold -STUPID!!!

That’s some zoo making those recommendations…WHAT BULLSHIT!!!
**A reminder that there is a disclaimer in place for this blog
Stay tuned and Follow the blog, there will be more…there is always more Best -B

~ by topcatsroar on May 2, 2012.

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