Animal Law To Protect Public And Ownership Rights Passes Senate
Animal Sanctuaries Allowed To Continue Operation Under New Law
April 25, 2012
[ Troy Balderson Home | Troy Balderson Press ]
Columbus - 
The Ohio Senate approved a measure today creating state laws relating to the ownership of dangerous and wild animals. The new standards include public safety precautions and ownership registration requirements that owners must comply with by January 1, 2014. Sponsored by State Senator Troy Balderson (R - Zanesville), Senate Bill 310 was the result of months-long collaboration among animal experts, lawmakers, state officials, and animal owners, in the wake of last October's animal outbreak in Zanesville. Drawing national and international attention, senators have held committee hearings since early March to allow all interested parties the opportunity to testify on behalf of the bill. "Zanesville residents will never forget the shock and uncertainty that came with the events of last October," Balderson said. "However, passage of this bill allows our community and the rest of Ohioans to make appropriate adjustments to prevent another senseless tragedy from happening." The measure creates three new categories of animal classification: wild animals, restricted primates, and restricted snakes. These categories outline specific ownership requirements depending on type of animal. The bill makes clear that the acquisition of non-human primates and large carnivores such as lions, tigers, and bears will be limited to prospective owners who are either an accredited sanctuary or recognized as a safe and useful facility by a larger association of zoo professionals. Snake owners will continue to have the ability to acquire and breed snakes in Ohio as long as they register their snakes accordingly and abide to new basic caging and care standards. Additionally, new fees and insurance requirements for the ownership of certain animals have been put into place. "This issue draws a great amount of passion from all sides, but I remain firm with my intent to find a proper balance that ensures public safety while also preserving the personal property of current, responsible animal owners," Balderson added. On Tuesday, members of the Senate Agriculture, Environment, and Natural Resources Committee accepted a sub bill that contained a series of amendments that were absent from the original version. The changes include an updated fee structure for restricted snakes and the creation of a Rescue Permit in order to allow Ohio's small animal sanctuaries to continue operations. The following changes are now included in the as-passed version: -Boa Constrictors have been removed from the list of Restricted Snakes and owners of constricting snakes no longer need to obtain liability insurance -the Savannah Cat, a serval-domestic cat hybrid that is a widely-recognized pet, is also exempt from the bill's provisions -allows the Director of the Department of Agriculture to issue a temporary waiver from the provisions in S.B. 310 if an individual or facility is actively engaged in obtaining accreditation or membership from either the Zoological Association of America (ZAA), the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA), or the Global Federation of Animal Sanctuaries, but has not completed the process by the bill's effective date -provides animal owners with the option to obtain surety bonds in place of liability insurance "I am grateful for the expertise that law enforcement officials, wildlife professionals, animal rights advocates, and veterinarians who willingly offered expertise to the legislature as we carefully considered this bill. It is my hope that this process has helped to cultivate a long-lasting collaboration and dialogue." The legislation now moves to the Ohio House of Representatives for further consideration.
Senator Balderson represents the 20th Senate District of Ohio, which is made up of Athens, Coshocton, Guernsey, Meigs, Monroe, Morgan, Muskingum, Noble, and Washington Counties
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