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March 21, 2012

Ohio Voters Want Stronger Laws on Animal Protection

New Statewide Poll Reveals Overwhelming Support for State Bills on Exotic Pets, Puppy Mills and Cockfighting

A new statewide survey of Ohio voters conducted by Columbus-based Saperstein Associates reveals overwhelming support for bills pending in the Ohio state legislature to improve the treatment of animals. By wide margins, and with support from every demographic group and political affiliation, Ohio voters strongly favor three state bills to restrict the private ownership of dangerous exotic pets, regulate large-scale commercial dog breeders and make cockfighting a felony.

“This survey confirms that Ohio voters across the state want common-sense laws to protect animals from cruelty and abuse, and to uphold public safety in our communities,” said Karen Minton, Ohio state director of The Humane Society of the United States. “State lawmakers are now considering several policies to address the problems of exotic pets, puppy mills and cockfighting, and we urge them to swiftly pass these measures into law.”

Among the research findings:

Exotic Pets: Three out of four (75 percent) voters support Senate Bill 310, introduced by Sen. Troy Balderson, R-Zanesville, to ban private citizens from acquiring exotic and dangerous animals such as tigers, bears, wolves, crocodiles, lions and primates, while only 20 percent oppose the bill and 5 percent are undecided. Nearly three-fourths (73 percent) believe the ban should prevent citizens from acquiring large constrictor snakes such as pythons, boa constrictors and anacondas while almost four out of five (79 percent) voters say they agree that ownership of exotic animals by private citizens poses a threat to public safety. A majority (53 percent) of voters believe the ban should also apply to members of the Zoological Association of America, which is currently exempt from the legislation. HSUS Ohio state director Karen Minton will testify in favor of S.B. 310 during an Agriculture, Environment and Natural Resources Committee hearing today. 

“Respondents most likely to vote are the most likely to support this issue, and the most likely to feel that the ban should apply to constricting snakes,” said Martin D. Saperstein, Ph.D., president of Saperstein Associates.  “Support also is higher among older voters.”

Puppy Mills: More than four out of five (84 percent) voters support legislation to regulate large-scale commercial dog breeders, known as puppy mills, while only 14 percent oppose the bill and 2 percent are undecided. Senate Bill 130, introduced by Sen. Jim Hughes, R-Columbus, would establish a Commercial Dog Breeding Oversight Board, develop a state licensing authority, require inspections of high-volume dog breeding facilities, and deny a license to anyone convicted of animal cruelty.

Cockfighting: More than seven out of ten (72 percent) voters support legislation that would make cockfighting a felony offense and increase the penalties for those convicted. Ohio currently is one of only 11 states lacking felony-level penalties for cockfighting, and the maximum fine is only $250. House Bill 260, introduced by Rep. Tim Derickson, R-Oxford, would strengthen the state’s anti-cockfighting statute. Three-fifths (60 percent) of voters agree that because of Ohio’s weak penalties the state has become a magnet for cockfighting, which brings with it criminals involved in gambling, narcotics, and other illegal activities.

The survey of 804 voters was conducted by Saperstein Associates during March 13-18, 2012, and the margin of error is +/- 3.5 percent. A full copy of the survey results is available here.

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Media Contact: Raúl Arce-Contreras, rcontreras@humanesociety.org, 301-721-6440.


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