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October 26, 2010

Advocates and Filmmaker Call for Stronger Exotic Animal Laws in Ohio

Mother of man killed by captive bear joins call for change

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Deidre Herbert, the mother of the young man killed two months ago by a captive black bear in an back yard in Lorain County, made her first public appearance about the incident, calling on policy makers to adopt a ban on keeping dangerous wild animals as pets so that "this tragedy that I experienced doesn't happen to anyone else." She was joined at the Statehouse in Columbus by Wayne Pacelle, president and CEO of The Humane Society of the United States; Tim Harrison, retired firefighter and policeman who has responded to dozens of exotic animal emergencies, and filmmaker Michael Webber, whose documentary "The Elephant in the Living Room" is scheduled for a premier showing tonight in Columbus. 

All of the speakers pointed out that Ohio has virtually no controls on owning exotic animals, making the state the "Wild West" when it comes to private ownership of dangerous wildlife. All of the speakers lauded Gov. Ted Strickland for his commitment to implement a rule banning new private ownership of big cats, bears, primates, alligators, large constricting snakes and venomous snakes. 

"We applaud Governor Strickland's commitment to reform Ohio's antiquated exotic animal laws," said Pacelle. "This cannot happen soon enough, since the absence of a sound policy has left a trail of human and non-human victims."

"No family should have to suffer the agony of losing their child to an animal meant to be in the wild," said Herbert, whose son, Brent Kandra, was killed on Aug. 20 after being mauled by a bear owned by notorious exotic animal owner Sam Mazzola.

The award-winning documentary film, "The Elephant in the Living Room," sheds light on the issue. "It is shocking for people to learn that in many areas of the country, it is perfectly legal to keep a pet African lion or deadly cobra or chimpanzee in your home," said Webber. "This seems to raise a lot of questions in audiences minds, causing them to want to know what they can do to help."

Webber and Harrison are both Ohioans. The film is due for wide release in 2011 and is previewing in Ohio now, including shows at the Drexel Theatre Oct. 22-28. The Oct. 26 evening screening will be followed by a discussion with Pacelle, Webber and Harrison.

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Follow The HSUS on Twitter. See our work for animals on your iPhone by searching "HumaneTV" in the App Store. 

The Humane Society of the United States is the nation's largest animal protection organization — backed by 11 million Americans, or one of every 28. For more than a half-century, The HSUS has been fighting for the protection of all animals through advocacy, education and hands-on programs. Celebrating animals and confronting cruelty — On the web at humanesociety.org.

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