Exotic animal owners fear losing them

Oct. 26, 2011 at 3:04 PM
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COLUMBUS, Ohio, Oct. 26 (UPI) -- As Ohio moves toward stricter regulation of ownership of exotic animals, animal owners say they are being punished for the actions of a few.

Pam White, who owns the American Primate Educational Sanctuary in Jefferson, said she provides a home for animals who might have been used for medical tests or put down. She told the Columbus Dispatch she believes many, if not most, of exotic pet owners are responsible.

"But you never hear about them," she said.

Ohio has some of the least restrictive laws on owning exotic animals. Last week, a man who owned lions, tigers, cheetahs, bears and monkeys on a farm near Zanesville, released the animals before taking his own life. Sheriff's deputies shot about four dozen animals.

Gov. John Kasich has ordered a Department of Natural Resources task force to draw up new regulations.

Evelyn Shaw of Patalaska, who keeps a small group of exotic cats, one large and two small, at her home said the state may need new regulations and should enforce the laws now on the books better. But she opposes a complete ban.

"From the day I got them, I agreed to take care of them for the rest of their lives," Shaw said. "It's not fair for the government to tell me that I have to break the promise I made to them."

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