Political Opponents Agree On Exotic Animal Legislation

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Both the Ohio House and Senate are expected to act this coming week on a bill regulating exotic animals.

The legislation was approved by the House Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee this past week.

"I think the end goal needs to be that these animals are that there shouldn't be private individual ownership of lions and tigers, just large dangerous exotic animals," said State Representative Debbie Phillips.

Phillips is a member of the committee and she was one of 17 to approve the bill.  

"The people who have the training and the resources, you know, zoos, people who are involved in bonified species preservation program are the folks who can appropriately care for these animals and it shouldn't be a casual situation," she said.

The bill did have some opposition, though.  There were four "no" votes.

The proposal bans the sale, new ownership and breeding of restricted exotic animals.

It originated in the Senate under the sponsorship of Republican Troy Balderson of Zanesville.

Phillips, a Democrat, says she worked to get some amendments before the committee vote.

"Municipalities that have stricter ordinances are able to exceed the bill's provisions," said Phillips.

Phillips also helped to get the following as changes too: Closed the rescue permit loophole with regard to purchasing additional animals, removed small monkeys, and lowered the insurance from $250,000 to $200,000.

During an interview earlier this month, Phillips's general election opponent generally agreed with her about the bill, not wanting a 100 percent ban on ownership.

"Our people out here, I mean the wilds as an example, the zoo is involved with that. But there are some people who are doing some great work with some dangerous species who have the facility and the background to work with zoos to make sure that we keep a crossbred of animals," said Charles Richter.

Richter is a Republican from Little Hocking.     

"The gentleman that had the animals in Zanesville, he had been issued all kinds of citations and they had been going out there for a while so I don't understand if there was issues, why there wasn't something done already, and we could have averted that issue to begin with, said Richter.  So if we do have a plan, we just need to make sure we enforce it, and if there is somebody that's having issues than we need to get those animals out of there long before it gets to the point where he has a meltdown again."

If the bill becomes law, a full ban on the acquisition, sale and breeding of restricted species would take effect 90 days after it's signed.

Mandatory registration of exotic wild animals would be required by the end of this year.

Owners of snakes can continue to keep, breed and acquire them but any on a restricted list must be registered with the state.