Animal Welfare Organizations Praise Ohio Legislature for Passing Dangerous Wild Animal Act

May 23, 2012

The Humane Society of the United States, Born Free USA and the ASPCA® issued the following statements in response to the passage of the Dangerous Wild Animal Act by the Ohio House of Representatives by a vote of 87 to 9. After passing the legislature, the bill is now on Gov. John Kasich’s desk for his signature. The bill was introduced by state Sen. Troy Balderson, R-Zanesville.

"This legislation ends Ohio's status as a free-for-all state for private ownership of dangerous wild animals," said Karen Minton, Ohio state director for The Humane Society of the United States.  "This policy is years in the making and will help prevent more tragic situations in which both people and animals are violently harmed. We thank Governor Kasich for his strong leadership, and Senator Balderson and other lawmakers for their commitment to this policy."

"Ohio legislators have taken an important step forward today to protect the citizens of Ohio and stop this cycle of animal abuse by regulating exotics in captivity once and for all," said Vicki Deisner, ASPCA state legislative director for the Midwest Region.  "The ASPCA thanks Ohio's elected officials for making the safety of Ohio's communities a paramount concern by regulating the ownership of dangerous wild animals in Ohio, and look to the leadership of Governor Kasich to swiftly sign S.B. 310 into law."

Adam Roberts, Executive Vice President of Born Free USA added, "Today marks a strong step forward in protecting exotics and Ohioans from the dangerous and inhumane wildlife trade. It's been over seven months since the Zanesville massacre, but we haven't forgotten this tragedy. Passing this bill is long overdue. There is an epidemic in this country of owning wild animals as 'pets' and it must stop. We commend Ohio leadership in passing this urgently needed public safety and animal welfare measure, and we urge Governor Kasich to sign it into law immediately."

S.B. 310 would:

  • 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 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 that will be established by the Ohio Department of agriculture;
  • Require criminal background checks to qualify for a permit for owners of existing exotic animals.  

The bill represents a major step forward for the state, and once enacted, Ohio will no longer be one of only seven states in the nation with no restrictions on the private ownership of dangerous exotic wildlife as pets.

Last week, The HSUS released the results of an undercover investigation into the Oklahoma-based GW Exotic Animal Park whose owner, Joe Schreibvogel, lobbied heavily against Ohio's bill, and made absurd claims that Terry Thompson was murdered by animal advocates in order to advance legislation restricting exotic pets. GW Exotic Animal Park acts as a roadside zoo and traveling zoo, with as many as 200 big cats, and allows dangerous and inhumane interactions with tigers. The HSUS investigation uncovered at least six cases where visitors were bitten or scratched by tigers.