Ohio has an exotic animal problem.
Yep, they still have problems, even after Zanesville and the so-called revamping of laws addressing exotic animal ownership.
So what happened this time?
Tiger Ridge Exotics owner Kenny Hetrick failed to file for a permit in a timely manner. State agriculture department inspectors also found safety problems, including inadequate fencing and hazards that could harm the animals.
So after repeated warnings, the state’s agriculture department went and removed the animals.
But Judge Reeve Kelsey has ordered the state agriculture department to return the animals to Hetrick. The black leopard, lion, Kodiak bear, liger, bobcat, wolf hybrid, and 5 tigers had been tranquilized and were in transit, so now the agriculture department has to make sure the animals are OK, then return them to a man who had blatantly refused for two years to follow state law and maintain the animals under the conditions set aside after Zanesville.
I have to say that I don’t believe ANYONE has the right to own exotic animals. Period. I don’t think they belong in zoos. I certainly don’t believe they should kept as pets or as roadside attractions. And yet, states like Ohio, Florida, and Alabama, among others, allow this practice to continue.
Hetrick’s place isn’t a sanctuary. He’s a breeder of these animals as well. You can look on his website and see that.
Thanks to Judge Kelsey, these animals will languish still longer while awaiting a court hearing on February 10th. In the meantime, well-meaning but foolish people who see Hetrick as a hero for “facing down the government” are helping spruce up the property, so odds are Hetrick will win the right to keep those creatures. But the people won’t hang around for long, and the conditions will again deteriorate.
What do you think? Should people be allowed to own exotic animals? Why or why not?