In Ohio, Background Checks May Be Required for Owning Exotic Animals

When well-caged and monitored, exotic animals make interesting, exciting pets. Yet, when the animals are allowed to roam like your average house pet, they end up posing a hazard. Because of this, an Ohio lawmaker is proposing higher standards for owners of exotic animals.

Why Ohio and why now? According to the Washington Post, a state resident owning 48 wild animals, including lions and Bengal tigers, let all of them lose and then committed suicide. Because the animals were not contained properly (the property only had a three-foot-tall livestock fence surrounding it), all were shot rather than saved.

If this bill becomes law, far stricter standards for owning exotic animals will be in place. First, background checks will be required for all current owners in order to obtain a permit. Owners with past felony convictions cannot acquire permits and, thus, will have their animals taken away. Additionally, new ownership will not be possible, with the exception of snakes.

Even owners of constricting and venomous snakes need to follow certain rules, however. While breeding and acquiring new animals will be legal if the law passes, owners must have an effective safety plan in place in case one or more animals escape.

All owners, as well, will have a strict set of standards to meet, if the law goes into effect into 2012. Aside from background checks and permits, all owners will need insurance, microchips for tracking the animals, and to meet care requirements, and must register them within 60 days. All properties, as well, must be surrounded by an eight-foot-tall fence. Organizations with several animals, such as zoos, research facilities, and circuses, are exempt from such potential requirements.

Ohio has some of the weakest laws regarding exotic animal ownership. Do you think these proposed measures are necessary not only for the safety of other people within the vicinity but also for the animals themselves?


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