Ohio’s new wild-animal law survives court challenge

Ohio’s new exotic-animal ownership rules overcame a constitutional challenge yesterday, setting the stage for the law to be enforced.

U.S. District Judge George C. Smith said in a 46-page ruling that the law, which was passed this year, is constitutional. He turned down a request by exotic-animal owners for a temporary restraining order and a permanent injunction against the rules.

A group of animal owners had sued the Ohio Department of Agriculture in federal court in Columbus, arguing that the law harms their First, Fourth, Fifth and 14th Amendment rights.

In an evidentiary hearing last week, some owners said the law will put them out of business because they can’t sell animals they have bred and can’t afford new caging requirements.

The Ohio Dangerous Wild Animals and Restricted Snakes Act was enacted after Terry W. Thompson, who lived near Zanesville, released dozens of wild animals in October 2011 and then killed himself. Forty-eight of Thompson’s animals had to be killed.

“The ultimate interest implicated in this case is the public interest,” Smith wrote. “While the named plaintiffs may be responsible dangerous-wild-animal owners, there are some that are not.”

Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine, whose office argued for the law, said he was happy with the decision.

So was Karen Minton, state director for the Humane Society of the United States, who intervened in the case on the government’s side.

“The reckless individuals who created this very problem in the first place should not be allowed to put public safety and animal welfare further at risk, and put the financial burden on Ohio taxpayers and private groups to clean up their mess,” Minton said in a statement.

Robert M. Owens, attorney for the plaintiffs, said he’s preparing an appeal.

“Our position is, the court wrongly considered the logic of our First Amendment claim,” he said. “We’re very disappointed, especially since the court essentially adopted the Humane Society’s logic.”

Under the First Amendment, citizens can ask the government to right a wrong through the courts. In his ruling, Smith said the state had “a legitimate government purpose behind the enactment of this act — to protect animal welfare and public safety from threats posed by certain dangerous wild animals.”

He said animal owners “failed to prove that defendants have violated their due process rights” under the Ohio and U.S. constitutions.

The new law allows current owners to keep their animals if they register them with the state, have identification microchips implanted in them, pay permit fees, obtain insurance and meet requirements for such things as cages, fencing and signage.

Some owners argued in court that microchipping animals can be dangerous



Kasich signs Ohio’s first exotic-animal regulations

Gov. John Kasich shakes the hand of Jack Hanna, director emeritus of the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium, after signing Senate Bill 310, which regulates the sale and ownership of exotic animals in the state.

Ohio’s new exotic-animals law, signed yesterday by Gov. John Kasich, offers no guarantees of preventing another escape like the incident near Zanesville that inspired it.

“There is no 100 percent foolproof in the business we do,” Jack Hanna, director emeritus of the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium, said minutes after Kasich affixed his signature to Senate Bill 310, regulating the sale and ownership of exotic animals in Ohio.

But Kasich said he doesn’t expect another mass animal escape like the Oct. 18 incident when four dozen wild animals owned by Terry W. Thompson had to be shot by law-enforcement officers to protect the public. Thompson committed suicide after releasing the animals.

Could there be another escape?

Possibly, Kasich said, but the state is much better prepared to deal with it than it was eight months ago. He said the law represents a ban on exotic-animal ownership, albeit a “phased-in” one representing a compromise with a “small but loud and emotional” group of animal owners.

“It took more time than you would think, but we changed Ohio,” Kasich said during yesterday’s Statehouse bill signing. “You’re not going to have life go on just the way it was.”

Hanna, who was on the scene of the incident near Zanesville and called it “one of the most-difficult times of my entire life,” said he supports what the state is doing. “The world’s watching Ohio.”

“The No. 1 thing in this bill is to protect the citizens of the state of Ohio,” added state Sen. Troy Balderson, a Zanesville Republican and sponsor of the bill, who worked through 16 drafts of the legislation before it was passed by the Ohio Senate. He said he was also concerned about preserving the rights of animal owners and protecting the animals.

The law, which takes effect in 90 days, bans the acquisition, sale and breeding of restricted species in Ohio as of Jan. 1, 2014. However, the mandatory registration of banned species by current owners will begin when the bill takes effect. Owners can keep their animals as long as the animals live if they register them with the state and follow regulations on caging, signage and care.

On the restricted list are large cats, bears, elephants, certain monkeys, rhinos, alligators, crocodiles, anacondas and pythons longer than 12 feet, certain vipers and venomous snakes.

There are several classifications of permits, including “wildlife shelter,” which will cost $250 to $1,000, depending on the number of animals. Owners must also buy liability insurance or a surety bond of $200,000 to $1 million.

Ohio has been one of seven states that have no restrictions on private ownership of exotic animals.

The law was supported by all zoos in the state, however many private owners blasted the law at a series of legislative hearings, saying it would force them to “go underground” with their animals or move out of state.

The Humane Society of the United States, Born Free USA and the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals issued statements in response to Kasich’s bill signing.

“Common sense, rather than tragedy, should drive public policy decisions, but sometimes it takes a high-profile event to focus the attention of lawmakers on issues not in the headlines,” said Wayne Pacelle, president and chief executive officer of the Humane Society. “We are grateful to Gov. Kasich and the legislature for standing firm on this issue.”

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals said in a statement that the law is “an important step forward” but has “too many exceptions to be as strong as it should — and fails to offer enough enforcement mechanisms.”


**Adding insult to animal owners…Who would have ever thought you’d see Jack Hanna and Wayne Pacelle in agreement!!! Me thinks there’s more here than meets the eye!!! OAAO should file an AETA complaint and see where it goes with all the payoffs and dishonest business going on behind the scene…maybe even file Deceptive Trade Practice Act complaint ’cause something is creating a big stink in Ohio and it’s not the animals!!!

The following is an end of year message from Wayne Pacelle-KNOW THY ENEMY!!!

SPECIAL NOTE: The claim that this bill is for public safety is BULLSHIT!!! In no way does it protect the public in anyway-What it does is restrict private animal ownership!!! Please explain how that protects the GP?!? Even the Animal Rights Extremists don’t claim that one…rather, they remain against private animal ownership-period!!!


December 27, 2012

Our Biggest Animal Stories of 2012

Good people won’t tolerate cruelty, and that’s one of the main drivers of our relentless efforts to expose the broader public to the abuse, suffering, and neglect that animals endure at human hands. This is perhaps our greatest charge. At The HSUS, we have big platforms to distribute our message in an unfiltered way — humanesociety.orgAll Animalsmagazine, Animal Sheltering magazine, our HumaneTV app, our YouTube channel and our Facebook and Twitterplatforms — but we also rely on the media to increase public awareness and allow us to make our case to the public.

We are here to build awareness and to instigate reform.  And here’s my summary of the biggest news stories for 2012 — cases where The HSUS either generated the coverage or contributed to public discussion in a serious way.

    • The biggest story of the year focused on dozens of major food retailers announcing to the public that they’d no longer tolerate gestation crates for pigs. Our ambitious campaign quickly turned into a rout, with more than 50 of the nation’s biggest food retailers, and more than 100,000 retail stores, making public pledges to phase out gestation crates. The trigger for so much of this action was the February announcement we made with the fast-food giant McDonald’s, and that news story was picked up throughout the country. We kept the heat on the factory farming industry with a series of undercover investigations at gestation crate facilities, including one of Wyoming Premium Farms. Just this week, law enforcement officials announced nine arrests for animal cruelty stemming from that investigation. We also joined with family farmers and filed a federal lawsuit against the USDA and the National Pork Board for misuse of check-off funds for lobbying.
    • One of our undercover investigators got into the stables of a Hall of Fame trainer of Tennessee Walking Horses and documented the methods of torture he used to induce the high-stepping gait that wins ribbons at competitive shows. Our investigation led to his prosecution, but also to the exposure and condemnation of widespread corruption within the industry. ABC’s Nightline broke the story, CNN covered it, and the Tennessean, the state’s largest paper, stayed on the case with an intense focus andcalled on the industry to reform. Chattanoogan.com columnist Roy Exum wrote a long series of pieces that shamed the industry, with its deception and double-speak, and reminded readers throughout the country of our responsibilities to horses. Reps. Ed Whitfield (KY) and Steve Cohen (TN) were so incensed by the abuse that they’ve drafted a federal bill to toughen the Horse Protection Act (H.R. 6388).
    • The HSUS is good at wrestling down its adversaries, but we also know that compromise and working together are essential if we are going to make broad progress for animals. National Public Radio provided extensive coverage of our agreement with the United Egg Producers, to push for legislation to double the space allotments for hundreds of millions of laying hens and to give the birds enrichments. Our collective call for a national policy to ban barren battery cages won support from dozens of major newspapers throughout the country. Our investigation into one egg farm (which kept chickens in cages that didn’t even meet the very spare standards of the UEP) itself blew the lid on the cruelty that can occur on the factory farm. Nicholas Kristof broke the story in his New York Times column.
    • The National Institutes of Health, The HSUS and Chimp Haven, the national chimpanzee sanctuary system, announced that approximately 110 chimps at New Iberia Research Center — a lab we investigated in 2009 — would go to Chimp Haven and live out the remainder of their lives in peace and security. It was a marker that the NIH has recognized that there’s no future in invasive experiments on these great apes, even as we push forward in our promotion of legislation to achieve that objective.
    • When a California hunting magazine published a picture of California Fish and Game Commission president Dan Richards grinning and holding up a beautiful mountain lion he had just shot out of a tree in an out-of-state hound hunt in Idaho, we decided to expose his callousness. California voters made this type of trophy hunting for mountain lions illegal long ago, and argued he wasn’t fit to lead wildlife policymaking in our country’s biggest, most pro-animal state. The pressure resulted in his demotion on the Commission, but the enduring legacy of his action is that we convinced the state legislature and the governor to outlaw the practice of chasing and hunting down California bears and bobcats with packs of dogs. That story was widely reported in California, and in recent days, throughout the country.

270x240 female tiger black beauty kmilani

    • We demanded and worked for a ban on private ownership of dangerous wild animals in Ohio long before the national news media reported on the Zanesville tragedy in the fall of 2011. Early this year, we worked with lawmakers to get the job done, and fought off a lobbying campaign and a federal lawsuit from exotic animal owners. In fact, since 2010, we’ve helped drive the enactment of seven major new animal welfare policies in Ohio.  On the national level, regarding exotics, we also exposed the trade in large constricting snakes as pets, and the Obama Administration restricted sales of four dangerous species, including Burmese pythons. All of the major newspapers in Florida called on the Administration to act boldly on the issue.
    • In July of this year, a California law that we supported along with a number of animal protection groups eight years ago took effect — to ban the sale of paté de foie gras, if it comes from the force-feeding of ducks or geese. Some forward-thinking chefs, such as Wolfgang Puck, sided with us, while others complained about their freedom to cook whatever product they want. Ultimately, then-Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger agreed that it’s more important to prevent cruelty to helpless animals than for chefs to serve foie gras. They have a lot of other options in the pantry, but the birds are forced to endure misery — all for a table treat. This year we stopped an attempt to weaken or gut the new law that some of the chefs tried to cook up in Sacramento.
    • It was a horrible year for wolves, with the Obama Administration removing federal protections for wolves in the Northern Rockies and in the Great Lakes. The range states went wild with sport hunting programs, killing hundreds of wolves with traps and guns. The HSUS had blocked downlisting efforts for years, but we weren’t able to stop the programs this year. But we’ll soon be back in court to stop the slaughter of wolves for trophies and fur pelts. It’s important to shed the old notions of wolves as marauding, dangerous animals, and to recognize that the wild cousins of our domesticated dogs are no threat to humans, only a very modest threat to livestock, and a boon to any ecosystems in which they live.
    • Our Animal Rescue Team didn’t rest in 2012 — with raids on puppy mills in the Carolinasin other states, and even in Canada. The constant exposure generated by our actions reminds Americans of the importance of responsible care of animals and of the greed and indifference still too widely exhibited by some. Our response to Hurricane Sandy — setting up and running emergency animal shelters and reuniting hundreds of pets with their owners in New York and New Jersey — was featured on the NBC Nightly News, and there was no debate about the importance of helping animals in the run-up to a disaster and in the harrowing days right after it’s struck.
  • The Sacramento Bee did a long series of investigative pieces on the wildlife abuses committed by the USDA’s Wildlife Services program. This little-known federal program spends tens of millions of tax dollars a year, using cruel methods to primarily kill wildlife for the benefit of ranchers and other private businesses, killing non-target animals such as endangered species and family pets in the process.The Bee series blew the lid on the program, and The HSUS has vowed to continue to expose it and to demand that Congress and the Obama Administration put a stop to these abuses.

We’ll continue to drive campaigns forward to protect all animals, and enlist the press to shed light on topics that are vital to the work of any civil society.


**Disclaimer connected to this blog….Things said are of my opinion and the opinion of others…Stay tuned, there will be more…There always is…Follow this blog  Best  -B

~ by topcatsroar on December 28, 2012.

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