Published Tue, Nov 29, 2011 8:54 am Dateline
Updated Tue, Nov 29, 2011 9:08 am
An Athens-area state representative says international attention on Ohio's exotic animal regulations may make the legislature move quickly to put restrictions in place.
Democratic 92nd District Representative Debbie Phillips appeared on WOUB Televisions Newswatch program last night.
She says Republican Governor John Kasich's exotic animal regulation work group has made recommendations to the legislature for what state restrictions on exotic animal ownership should be.
The work group was formed last month, after the owner of a Muskingum County animal farm released dozens of his animals and killed himself.
Now, Phillips says the legislature has to look at the work group recommendations and put them into law.
"Our first interest has to be public safety," says Phillips.
The recommendations from the Kasich work group ban private ownership of exotic animals in the state of Ohio.
Phillips says, if adopted, if would keep Ohioans from having exotic animals as pets.
"That would be the essential distinction. So, if an individual was working with a zoo or with a speciies preservation program, they would be able to, if they met all of these other requirements, keep the animals.," says Phillips. "But it would not allow the kind of situation we saw unfold in Zanesville, where a private individual essentially has these animals as pets."
Phillips says the current timetable for putting the ban in place is 2014, but that could happen sooner since Ohio is currently in the national and international spotlight on this issue.
"I think that most people who have these animals care about them very deeply and want to do what's right," says Phillips. "I just don't know if they all have the resources they need to be able to safely care for these animals."
Phillips says she encourages those with ideas on exotic animal regulations to contact their local state representative.