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April 4, 2011

“Ohio’s Fatal Attractions”: The HSUS Issues Report on 14 of the State’s Most Inhumane and Dangerous Exotic Animal Owners

Urges Gov. Kasich to restore restrictions on possession and sale of dangerous wild animals

In the wake of news that an emergency order banning the acquisition of dangerous wild animals will expire this week, The Humane Society of the United States is urging Gov. John Kasich and the Ohio Department of Natural Resources to move quickly to issue regulations that will restrict the sale and possession of dangerous wild animals, specifically big cats, bears, wolves, non-human primates, large constricting and venomous snakes, and crocodilians. Gov. Kasich and the ODNR announced today that they will begin the process of reaching out to stakeholders who have an interest in the exotic animal issue, as a run-up to the promulgation of a new rule.

The HSUS today released a new report providing detailed information on some of “Ohio’s Fatal Attractions”—facilities that, despite serious and repeated violations of the federal Animal Welfare Act, continue to be licensed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture or, despite losing or cancelling their USDA licenses, are able to continue to possess dangerous animals due to Ohio’s lack of regulations. The report illustrates that there are immediate dangers to public safety and animal welfare in the state, and The HSUS is urging state officials to act with urgency on the new rulemaking process.

Violations of the minimum standards of the AWA by “Ohio’s Fatal Attractions” include: repeated failure to provide enclosures and perimeter fencing that would contain dangerous animals, failure to provide veterinary care to sick and emaciated animals, failure to provide adequate shelter during below-freezing temperatures, caging incompatible animals together or near each other resulting in violent fights, and filthy and unsanitary conditions. Included in the 14 “Fatal Attractions” are the following facilities:

 

  • Sam Mazzola, whose USDA license was revoked in 2009 and whose captive bear killed a 24-year-old man in 2010, yet who still has a menagerie of dangerous animals in a suburban community in Lorain County.
  • Tiger Ridge Exotics in Perrysburg, which has been cited by the USDA for repeated failure to provide enclosures that could safely contain lions and wolves, who “could easily jump out.”
  • Tiger Paw in Ashland, whose neighbors expressed concern about living near dangerous wild animals when the owners moved in with five adult tigers. The tigers initially lived in cramped cages in the basement. This facility has been cited by the USDA for unsafe caging.
  • Rescue One in Lancaster, which has been cited by the USDA for unsafe caging, unsanitary feeding practices, and failure to separate three incompatible tigers, resulting in a violent fight that lasted for 30 minutes.
  • Stump Hill Farm in Massilon, which has been cited by the USDA for unsafe handling and unsafe caging of dangerous animals and failure to provide veterinary care.

Data collected from news reports and government documents indicate that Ohio ranks fourth among the 50 states in dangerous incidents involving big cats, bears, and primates. Since 1990, at least 29 people in Ohio, including eight children, suffered injuries and one person was killed.

“This report shows that Ohio is the Wild West when it comes to private ownership and auctions of dangerous wild animals for the exotic pet trade,” says Wayne Pacelle, president and CEO of The HSUS. “It is our firm hope that Governor Kasich will waste little time in adopting new rules to ban the trade in wild carnivores, primates and large snakes so that there are no more human or non-human victims. We look forward to working with the Governor and agency staff as they reach out to stakeholders on this critical issue and develop new standards.”

The 25-page report also identifies Ohio communities where residents have been known to keep pet bears, big cats, and primates and escapes and attacks by some of these animals.

A summary of the report can be found here. Click here to see the full report.

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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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