Farm and Dairy covered most of the signature ceremony via livestream via The Ohio Channel.
The law requires owners of certain named exotic animals to purchase a permit if they intend to keep their animals beyond Dec. 31, 2013, and prohibits the auctioning of those animals and deliberately setting them free.
The law becomes effective Sept. 3 of this year, and owners must register their animals with Ohio Department of Agriculture by Nov. 2. Upon registration, the animals must be micro-chipped.
The issue drew worldwide attention in October 2011 when deceased exotic animal owner Terry Thompson, of Zanesville, apparently set free more than 40 such animals in an apparent suicide attempt. Most of the animals had to be euthanized by gunshot to protect the public.
Kasich formed a task force of involved parties earlier in the year to decide what types of regulations would be best for animals and humans. It’s work led in part to the formation of Senate Bill 310 — the Ohio Dangerous Wild Animal Act.
“Ohio really was the wild, wild west,” Kasich said. “We had virtually no rules and no regulations in terms of all of this.”
He acknowledged the months of work by the House and Senate in reaching a bipartisan solution.
“It took many, many months and an awful lot of hours because when you’re changing the culture of a state to bring about some rules and some regulation, it’s not something that happens easily,” he said. “We now have changed Ohio, and there are a lot of other states out there, I believe, that are going to learn from what we’ve done in our state.”
Kasich was joined by Ohio Department of Agriculture David Daniels and Ohio Department of Natural Resources Director James Zehringer. The agriculture department will administer the permitting, and has field veterinarians who will be trained for such work.
Lions, tigers and bears “are not domesticated pets and for far too long in Ohio we have treated them as such,” Daniels said. “Our veterinarian staff at the Ohio Department of Agriculture understands the facilities that are required to house these animals and that they are not household pets.”
Permits, required by Jan. 1, 2014, include wildlife shelter permits in which the owner does not intend to breed or sell the animal; wildlife propagation permits, in which breeding will be done “soley for the purpose of a species survival program;” restricted snake possession permits, in which the owner does not intend to breed, sell or transfer the snakes; a restricted snake propagation permit; and a rescue facility permit, designed as a rescue facility where “abused, neglected, unwanted, impounded, abandoned, orphaned, or displaced dangerous wild animals are provided care for their lifetime or released back to their natural habitat.”
Permits generally range in cost from $150-$3,000, depending on how many animals are kept. Owners also are required to keep minimum liability insurance should an accident happen.
Officials said they wanted a policy that would protect public health and safety, while also protecting the well-being of the animals and personal property rights.
“These people that have some of these animals are great people,” said Jack Hanna, director emeritus with the Columbus Zoo. “We’re not taking anything, we’re just trying to have a bill here to protect everyone.”
Rep. Dave Hall, R-Millersburg, listened to many hours of testimony as chairman of the House Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee by proponents and opponents of the bill.
Several meetings lasted beyond midnight, but he praised the legislature for its “bipartisan approach” and “making sure everyone was heard.”
The bill was sponsored by Sen. Troy Balderson, R-Zanesville, and re-drafted 16 times before the final version.
“People are going to be able to keep their animals that they have,” he said, “they’re just going to follow some rules like everybody else does.”
Animals that fall under the ban include: Large cats, rhinos, anacondas and pythons (longer than 12 ft), bears, alligators, certain vipers, elephants, crocodiles, certain venomous snakes and certain monkeys.
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