October 1, 2013 is the first day to begin the permit application to comply with new Ohio regulations pertaining to certain exotic animals. Exemptions were given to AZA zoos, ZAA (Zoological Association of America) members, circuses and facilities being members of GFAS (Global Federation of Sanctuaries).
The permit application is available through the Ohio Department of Agriculture along with instructions at a separate link. Owners have until January 1, 2014 to apply for their permit or animals are subject to being confiscated.
The wildlife shelter permit, required to keep animals already owned, requires a background check and fingerprinting done at listed locations and may take up to 30 days for completion. Also, two affidavits are available in the links provided, one for compliance of standards and the other for no public contact with the animals. This is the basic permit for owners, with corresponding links for each designation, including rescue, certain snakes and propagation.
A surety bond or insurance requirements must be met with a certificate accompanying the application. A surety bond is only acceptable if pre-approved by the Dept. of Agriculture. Letters from local law enforcement indicating they have received a written plan of action in the event of an escape is also required when submitting the application.
Many more requirements are indicated in the permit application, final rules and SB310. Multiple sources are required to put together the requirements to remain legal. Many owners have expressed confusion about how to comply. One owner is still awaiting a return call from August 6th, with another call placed two weeks later leaving name and number again. Another owner stated they were doing the best they could, staying quiet and therefore hoping to be “overlooked.” Many fear the arbitrary answers given by phone versus written rules.
One owner, wishing to remain anonymous, is willing to do what they can, but cannot meet the extensive rules and expense involved to comply. The caging requirements are in direct opposition to what the USDA explained was needed in the past, making complete renovations necessary for some. The logistics of moving animals while making changes is a challenge in itself. Some owners are steeling themselves for the worst, since the state is not answering questions, even emails sent by some. The emotional aspect of removing animals from long-held homes with loving owners remains to be seen. Some predict a less than pleasant aftermath, while some say it may be worse than Zanesville.
An appeal is still in process, with a hearing scheduled for November 22, 2013. The previous appeal failed and it is still unknown the decision that will be made this time. Owners are urged to comply to keep their animals from being confiscated by the state. USDA licensing is not exempt and businesses have been harmed without compensation and private property rights violated in the opinion of many, but the law currently is in process, to be in full effect by January 1, 2104.