Finally! Ohio Governor John Kasich has signed the Dangerous Wild Animal Act into law. The Ohio House of Representatives passed the bill 87-9 on May 22, and the Ohio Senate passed it 30-1 in April. With the Ohio governor’s signature, only six states——Alabama, Nevada, North Carolina, West Virginia, South Carolina and Wisconsin—have little to no restrictions on the private possession of dangerous wild animals.
The bill comes into law about seven months after 56 exotic animals—including lions, tigers, wolves and bears—escaped a Zanesville, Ohio farm. The farm's owner, Terry Thompson, reportedly freed the animals before committing suicide. Nearly all the animals were shot dead as they roamed the city streets.
"We commend Governor Kasich for recognizing the need to regulate dangerous exotic animals and ensuring the safety of Ohio residents, as well as the health and well-being of wild animals kept as pets," says Nancy Perry, ASPCA Senior Vice President of Government Relations.
The new law will:
- Ban new ownership of dangerous wild animals, including big cats, some smaller exotic cats, bears, hyenas, gray wolves, non-human primate species, alligators and crocodiles in Ohio;
- Grandfather in existing animals so people who currently have them can keep them, as long as they obtain a permit;
- Require owners of exotic animals covered under the grandfather clause to acquire liability insurance or surety bonds ranging from $200,000 to $1 million;
- Require existing owners of exotic animals to comply with housing and safety standards to be established by the Ohio Department of Agriculture; and
- Require owners of existing exotic animals to pass criminal background checks to qualify for a permit.
For more information about the exotic pet trade, please visit our Fight Animal Cruelty section.