New Ohio Exotic Pet Law Lacks Teeth

Here’s some essential reading from Wayne Pacelle’s blog on the “emergency order” passed by Ohio governor John Kasich in response to last week’s tragedy in Zanesville. In what will surprise few familiar with Ohio’s industry-dominated legislature and weak animal welfare laws,

So not only is the emergency order too weak, but the prospects for a sound recommendation from the governor’s task force on the issue are not bright. Of the seven non-governmental organizations represented on the task force, two are exotic animal industry groups. One member, Polly Britton of the Ohio Association of Animal Owners (OAAO), is a notorious mouthpiece for the exotics industry and also has opposed just about every bit of animal welfare legislation in the state, including stronger anti-cockfighting and anti-puppy mill bills. The OAAO represents the exotic animal owners in the state, including one of the largest animal auctions in the nation, in Mount Hope, Ohio. There is also a representative from the deceptively named Zoological Association of America (not to be confused with the respected Association of Zoos and Aquariums), which accredits poorly run roadside zoos, sanctions public contact with dangerous animals, and was created “ to protect and defend the right to own animals.”

Full story.

Like the puppy mill issue, outsiders and newcomers to the animal protection movement are often shocked to learn what powerful political forces are behind the exotic pet industry. We’re not just talking about the tiny minority who believe it is their God-given right to breed Bengal tigers in the garage, but much more mainstream animal use interests are also ready to step up to the plate for exotic animal owners and merchants. Although most hunters, dog breeders, and similar folks probably deep down inside know there’s something wrong with chaining a lion in the backyard, the interests have successfully convinced many of them that their industry is “next” if the state legislature does something about the out-of-control exotic pet industry. We see this time and time again with industries the majority of people find unacceptable, whether it’s the sale of tigers and chimpanzees as pets or cockfighting.

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