Federal judge upholds Ohio’s new exotic animal law

Not over until the fat lady sings…They will appeal…

Federal judge upholds Ohio’s new exotic animal law


COLUMBUS (AP) — A federal judge upheld Ohio’s new restrictions on exotic animals Thursday after several owners sued the state over the law.

U.S. District Court Judge George Smith in Columbus sided with the state, saying that the court recognizes some businesses may be negatively affected and some owners may not be able to keep their beloved animals but that the owners failed to prove constitutional rights were violated.

The court said the case came down to the public interest and protecting the public from potential dangers of exotic animals.

“While the named Plaintiffs may be responsible dangerous wild animal owners, there are some that are not,” the ruling said.

Ohio officials have defended the law as a common-sense measure to address the growing safety problem of private ownership of exotics animals.

The state “felt all along like this law was in the best interest of the public, and public safety, and in the health and the welfare of these animals, and the judge reaffirmed that,” Ohio Department of Agriculture spokeswoman Erica Hawkins said.

The attorney for the seven owners who sued the state wasn’t immediately available to comment.

Those owners said the new regulations force them to join private associations and possibly give up their animals without compensation. They also challenged a requirement that animals be implanted with a microchip before being registered with the state, so the creatures can be identified if they get lost or escape.

State lawmakers worked with a renewed sense of urgency to strengthen the state’s regulations after a suicidal owner released dozens of creatures last year from an eastern Ohio farm in Zanesville. Authorities killed 48 of the animals, which included black bears, Bengal tigers and African lions, fearing for the public’s safety.

Owners, animal experts and state authorities were among those who testified before the judge during a three-day hearing in mid-December.

Owner Cyndi Huntsman told the judge the microchip requirement amounted to a death sentence for some of her creatures because of the anesthesia required for the procedure. She feared animals with health problems or those who are older won’t wake up from sedation.

The state argued in court documents that a microchip is “no larger than one or two grains of rice” and is typically injected in a minimally invasive procedure no different than vaccinating.

While the law took effect in September, some aspects have yet to kick in. For instance, a permit process for owners won’t begin until next October.

Current owners who want to keep their animals must obtain the new state-issued permit by Jan. 1, 2014. They must pass background checks, pay fees, obtain liability insurance or surety bonds, and show inspectors that they can properly contain the animal and care for it. Otherwise, they will be banned from having them.

The law exempts sanctuaries, research institutions and facilities accredited by some national zoo groups, such as the Association of Zoos and Aquariums and the Zoological Association of America.

The owners also contended that joining the groups to get an exemption from the law means they would have to associate and fund organizations with which they disagree.

Other owners in the lawsuit are Terry Wilkins, who owns a reptile and amphibian store called Captive Born Reptiles in Columbus; Mike Stapleton, owner of Paws & Claws Animal Sanctuary in Prospect; and Sean Trimbach, owner of Best Exotics LLC in Medway, where he breeds, raises and sells exotic animals. Three additional owners also joined the law in early December: Cyril Vierstra, of Wilkesville, Robert Sawmiller of Wapakoneta and Steve Frantz of Wayne County.

Exotic animal law ruling


Humbug  -B

~ by topcatsroar on December 21, 2012.

3 Responses to “Federal judge upholds Ohio’s new exotic animal law”

  1. I am so glad the exotic owners in Ohio are appealing. I read their requirement and they are made so expensive alot of people will forced to give up their exotic whom they love and take care of and the exotics love them. Where will the exotic animals go. I saw a the Columbas Zoo that is a horrible place and the place they are sending them is just cages. The exotics and owners will be broken hearted. This ban must be stopped. It’s a death sentence if they are taken away. What happened to the pursuit of happiness in the Constitution. I know responsible exotic owners and they are not in zoos and they are taken very good care of.

    • If, in fact, this becomes the law, there are people setting up places specifically designed for “hands-ON” animals…Few to none will be left behind. The issues will be caging and shipping animals out…Owners will be able to be with there animals once again and continue to help provide…with other owners taking over the task of day to day care. Maybe not the right answer to this problem but most certainly an option!!! There is nothing worse than not knowing what happened to an animal that you cared and loved for so many wonderful years or finding out they starved to death where they were placed or sold…It is hoped in the end, private animal ownership will be regained by rightful owners.
      Even if this becomes law, owners will still have the right to file suit for for the unlawful taking and continue to challenge the law. I fail to see how this helps a single animal, person or protects the public in any way!!! For me it demonstrates how abusive laws are to US citizens and how little respect our government shows towards the constitution in application of abusive laws.
      The federal courts are not designed to side with the plaintiffs so any win will go a long ways towards stopping this outrageous law. Best -B

  2. “While the named Plaintiffs may be responsible dangerous wild animal owners, there are some that are not,”
    -Pretty logical ruling, isn’t it? By that reasoning, we need to ban cars, since some drivers are not responsible. Ban the Internet too, because some users are not responsible. Throw everybody in jail because obviously, some people are guilty of something or other… I always thought it was supposed to be just the opposite, where it’s better that a few guilty people go free than for innocents to be penalized. But I guess I’m just living in the past.Today, you’re guilty unless you can prove yourself innocent -if they’ll let you.

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