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State of Ohio bullies exotic animal owners

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The State of Ohio, through the Department of Agriculture has found a new way to bully some of Ohio’s exotic animal owners. At least three of those involved are part of a lawsuit challenging the law passed in 2012, and may be the only holders of the special type permits which were exempted and also owning exotics.

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With less than two weeks left until the deadline, those exotic owners were told their exemptions were going to be denied and to expect a certified letter. Previous correspondence and during the “introductory visits,” it was admitted by the state they were exempt, treated as exempt. Mr. Vierstra said, “When they were here, they said they knew I was exempt and to just keep them informed of my status of those permits.”

The exemptions are in the Ohio Revised Code as listed in SB 310:

Sec. 935.03. (A) Division (A) of section 935.02 of the Revised Code does not apply to any of the following:

(5) A wildlife rehabilitation facility that is issued a permit by the chief of the division of wildlife in rules adopted under section 1531.08 of the Revised Code and that rehabilitates dangerous wild animals or restricted snakes that are native to the state for the purpose of reintroduction into the wild.

(10) Any person who has been issued a permit under section 1533.08 of the Revised Code;

The ORC 1533.08 states:

“Except as otherwise provided by division rule, any person desiring to collect or possess wild animals that are protected by law or their nests or eggs for scientific study, school instruction, other educational uses, or rehabilitation shall make an annual application to the chief of the division of wildlife for a wild animal permit on a form furnished by the chief.”

- Which lists three types of permits obtained through the ODNR, Ohio Department of Natural Resources – educational, rehabilitation and collection. One of the persons is a holder of two of those permits, yet the ODA, Ohio Department of Agriculture is claiming his exemption is not valid, denied. He also said involvement in the lawsuit was mentioned in a recent phone call about the exemption being denied.

Another person was in this process:

(b) The director has determined that the organization is in the process of being accredited or verified by the global federation of animal sanctuaries as a wildlife sanctuary.

The timeline of one owner attempting to get confirmation from the ODA of his exemption started in September. After many attempts, he was asked to send a copy of his permit, which was sent immediately. Now, two weeks before deadline, the legal counsel for ODA says it is denied.

An email stating new permits were being denied any exotic animal owner was received by a person last month. To make exemptions, then denying them even when written in the law, leaves many to wonder if any amount of complying is worthwhile. Any state changing on a whim to forcefully take what belongs to another is a bully, according to exotic animal, livestock and pet owners across the country.

Many more in Ohio and across the country are left wondering why Ohio spent almost three million dollars on a facility for confiscating animals, which is a huge waste, to then waste/kill the animals on top of it all since all the sanctuaries testified to being at capacity. These are animals kept by people for many years, some as family members as close as any dog or cat.

Many eyes are on Ohio and have been for a while, to see how people are treated along with the animals. Needless confiscations and killings are not humane, to animals or the people. People do remember the beginning of the exotic animal ban, before the Zanesville incident.

An appeal is still awaiting a decision and may not be known in time to keep animals from being killed, even if it is won. OAAO has headed up that effort with further costs to be paid, while Daniel Chambers has started raising funds for another attorney to keep animals from being killed needlessly. To remove animals from the homes they have lived in for a long time causes undue stress, with strangers, and all because a deal was made with HSUS, known as "The Buckeye Compromise." If a neighbor had a thief coming to steal their car, does that give them the right to say, "No, here's the keys to the next guy's car, take his?"

Even though the animals do not know their possible fate, the owners are quite aware and finding this season unbearable. The state apparently looks for ways around its own laws and even its own Constitution, since it's been said the writing of SB 310 went back to the governor sixteen times before he fulfilled his obligation - to whom and for what remains the question.

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