When The Ohio Dangerous Wild Animal Act goes into effect on Jan. 1, 2014, wild animal rescues and sanctuaries, like Tiger Ridge Exotics in Stony Ridge, must register for a permit and comply with all regulations.
For more than 30 years, Tiger Ridge Exotics has rescued and taken in unwanted bears, wolves, tigers, lions, bobcats, leopards and other big cats. But the new Ohio legislation is hurting animal rescues and sanctuaries like Tiger Ridge, according to owner Kenny Hetrick.
Hetrick told the Toledo Free Press “There is so much regulation in this new law. We have to put ID microchips in all my animals to register them with the state and get them neutered. We have 25 year-old lions; they won’t survive being tranquilized for that. I did that with my grizzly bear, and she died two days later. We have to install dig barriers (lions don’t dig, by the way), carry $1 million in insurance and even though this is a rescue facility taking in the animals confiscated from someone else, we still have to pay a permit fee.”
Tiger Ridge Exotics has about 30 wild animals. Under the new law, they must pay a $1,000 permit fee for the first 15 animals plus $125 for each additional animal.
Hetrick also had to make improvements at Tiger Ridge in order to comply with the new U.S. Department of Agriculture regulations. These included adding a 4-foot inward-facing overhang to the big cat cages. Under the new requirement, the mesh of the cage’s overhangs and the chain link that makes up the fence had to be of the same specified grade.
To Hetrick, that requirement was excessive. And expensive. Tiger Ridge Exotics operates on a donation basis.
“They know most small places can’t afford these things,” Hetrick said. “It’s not fair they won’t make us exempt or grandfather us in.”
Wild animal sanctuaries like Tiger Ridge are already regulated by the USDA, according to Hetrick. He stated that his shelter is regularly inspected. “The USDA inspectors come in unannounced three or four times a year and they look at the animals, examine their food, check their veterinary records and inspect my fencing. They even thoroughly search my house. We have a great record with the feds: No one’s ever been bit, and no animal has ever gotten loose.”
Hetrick continues to make the necessary changes to follow the new law. How long he can afford to keep Tiger Ridge open and continue to help animals is another question.
If you would like to donate towards the care of the lions, tigers, bears, wolves, bobcat, lynx, mountain lion, leopards and cheetahs that are there, go to http://www.tigerridgecats.com/ and click on “donate.”
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