A similar incident happened on U.S. 23 in Pike County in November 2007, when a large African lion escaped from a private owner’s property and began chasing vehicles on the highway. The lion eventually was contained, uninjured by its owner Terry Brumfield. No injuries or property damage were reported.
Ohio resident Liz Dumler launched the online campaign at Change.org this week after as many as 56 exotic animals — including tigers, lions, bears, wolves and leopards — escaped a zoo in Zanesville, through gates left open by owner Terry Thompson, who was found dead in his house. As of Wednesday evening, about 50 of the escape animals had been shot and killed by police.
“As an Ohio native, I was shocked and outraged when I learned of the deaths of the exotic animals that were kept as pets in Zanesville, Ohio,” Dumler said. “Sadly, the lack of laws and regulation in the state of Ohio concerning the sale and ownership of exotics have allowed this situation to happen. The deaths of these innocent animals shouldn’t be in vain, let’s change the laws in Ohio concerning exotic pets in their memory.”
News of the success of Dumler’s campaign is likely to put pressure on Kasich and other Ohio officials to prohibit the sale or ownership of exotic animals. Hundreds of exotic animals are currently kept as pets in Ohio, which is one of fewer than 10 states that do not regulate exotic animal ownership.
Former Gov. Ted Strickland had passed a temporary executive order to ban exotic animals, which Gov. Kasich allowed to expire upon taking office.
“The Strickland administration had an executive order that had no enforcement mechanism to it. What they attempted to do, ODNR (Ohio Department of Natural Resources) was not authorized by law to do,” said Rob Nichols, a spokesperson from Kasich’s office. “When we got into office, our legal people looked at it and we said ‘we want to do this’ because we support the principal of many of the things the executive order sought to do; they just chose a really sloppy way of trying to do it.”
Nichols said Kasich then developed a task force — including the Humane Society, Farm Bureau, Ohio zoos and veterinarians — to rewrite the ban.
“Something falling largely in line with what the executive order tried to do, but with the power of law behind it,” he said. “That task force is about 30 days away from having a framework put together.”
He said the events of the past week have heightened interest in getting it done much sooner, but said it was also important they took their time to do it right.
RYAN SCOTT OTTNEY can be reached at 740-353-3101, ext. 235, or email@example.com.