Senator Troy Balderson 20th Ohio Senate District FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Tuesday, March 13, 2012 Contact: Joshua Eck (614)466-8076 RESPONSIBLE REGULATION EYED FOR WILD ANIMAL OWNERSHIP By State Senator Troy Balderson Addressing concerns for public safety, personal property and animal welfare, I recently introduced legislation to regulate the private ownership of wild animals in Ohio. As a Zanesville resident, I know first hand how the terrible events of last October brought to light the lack of attention Ohio law shows toward the ownership of dangerous and wild animals. All of us were made aware of the need to protect public from harm while also preserving personal property rights. Over the last few months I have met with law enforcement, zoo officials, animal owners, veterinarians, wildlife professionals, animal rights advocates, state officials and others to determine an effective course of action. There is no question that this issue evokes passion in all involved. Consideration for a solution was done in a very deliberate manner. As I've traveled across the 20th Senate District, as well as the state, I've encountered many individuals who have maintained exceptional standards at their private animal facilities. However, I have also encountered some conditions that are below the bar. While some may argue the tragedy that occurred in my hometown was an isolated incident, I do not want to take the chance of a 'next time' where innocent people could get hurt. The intent of Senate Bill 310 is to accurately navigate the fine line between public safety, animal welfare, and personal property. I have been consistent in my three goals - to protect Ohio residents, to ensure the well-being and care for animals in our state, and to see to it that legitimate, law-abiding facilities may continue to provide excellent animal care in Ohio. That is why the legislation creates three new levels of standards for animal ownership. First, as soon as the bill is enacted individuals will be prohibited from acquiring large apes and large carnivores such as lions, tigers, and bears unless they are an accredited sanctuary or are recognized as a safe and useful facility by a larger association of zoo professionals. Those who already own these animals will either need to become affiliated with one of those organizations or will have to meet new high standards of care that will be set by the Ohio Department of Agriculture. Those who do not meet the standards or do not find alternative placement for their animals by January 1, 2014, will lose their ability to keep the animal. Second, individuals will no longer be able to acquire non-human primates, unless they also are an accredited sanctuary or affiliated with a larger association of zoo professionals. Those who already own and desire to keep small primates will have to comply with new care standards. Third, anyone who owns a constricting or venomous snake will have to register their snake and comply with new basic caging and care standards. These standards are intended to ensure that the public is protected and the animal receives quality care. Under this plan, individuals will be permitted to continue acquiring and breeding snakes. This bill is a balanced, common-sense approach which will keep the public safe and ensure that animals receive quality care. It also allows for owners who maintain new high standards of care to continue to care for their animals. As the General Assembly considers this bill, I look forward to continuing my conversations with interested parties. As hearings get underway and suggestions for improvement are made, adjustments to the bill may occur. However, my core intent for this bill will be held constant. That is to preserve the rights and operations of all responsible animal owners, while also creating a set of guidelines for everyone to follow as to ensure public safety and animal welfare.
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