Wild Animal Response team formed

June 15, 2013

Frank Lewis

PDT Staff Writer

The Scioto County Commissioners have named the members of their Dangerous Wild Animal Response Team in response to an Executive Order from Ohio Governor John Kasich.

In response to the tragedy in Muskingum County where a man reportedly turned all of his wild animals loose before committing suicide, Kasich issued an Executive Order instructing the state of Ohio to draft legislation on the regulation of dangerous wild animal ownership (DWA). Ohio Revised Code (ORC) Chapter 935 was adopted in September of 2012. The Commissioners said ORC 935.27 specifically outlines the formation of the State Dangerous Wild Animal Response Commission to address response to the release or escape of dangerous wild animals. According to the ORC, each county is responsible for developing and submitting a DWA response plan to the State DWA Response Commission.

Emergency Management Agencies have been engaged to implement the planning process for a local team comprised of specific areas outlined in the law.

“For years people in Scioto County have had what they call exotic animals, and they’re developing a program to deal with those things,” Scioto County Commissioners Chairman Mike Crabtree said. “There has been some issues with those types of animals. A lot of it has to do with bears, lions and tigers.”

Under the category of “Law Enforcement,” the members of the Team are Portsmouth Police Chief Robert Ware and Lt. Mike Gore, Commander of the Portsmouth Post of the Ohio State Highway Patrol; Scioto County Sheriff Marty V. Donini represents the part that calls for an elected official; The Fire Official is Portsmouth Fire Chief Bill Raison; First Aid - Dr. Brian Barhorst, Scioto County EMS Director; Emergency Management - Kim Carver, Scioto County EMA Director; Health - Portsmouth Health Commissioner Christ Smith; Public Health - Scioto County Health Commissioner Dr. Aaron Adams; Media - WNXT engineer and Scioto County Public Information Officer Larry Mullins; Exotic Animal owner - Phil Duncan and local veterinarian, Dr. Gail Counts.

The Commissioners said the Team will formulate the county plan and submit it for approval as the only task for their appointment.

“A couple of years back I had a couple of African lions myself,” Crabtree said. “They get so big…you can control them. They get like a big teddy bear, but there is always that doubt in mind, a person might intimidate them. They’re very strong. They’ve got a lot of power - their jaws and their claws - they can do a lot of damage very quickly. That’s the whole idea of this.”

Frank Lewis may be reached at 740-353-3101, ext. 252, or at flewis@civitasmedia.com. For breaking news, follow Frank on Twitter @FrankLewisPDT.