Wild animals don’t always make good pets, but several states give the benefit of the doubt to owners of large, exotic — and sometimes dangerous — animals. To ensure individuals who choose to domesticate these animals fully adhere to laws that promote general safety, Ohio has developed a new surety bond requirement to protect against the potential harm such animals could cause.
The driving force behind this surety requirement came in 2011 when a man set nearly 50 exotic animals — including Bengal tigers, black bears and an African lion — loose from his farm. A 45-minute-long animal hunt ensued, and almost all of the animals were shot. Members of the nearby community were scared to venture outdoors for days following the situation. As a result, the state decided additional safety measures were needed to prevent similar situations from occurring in the future. Senate Bill 310 introduces the regulations.
Although the new restrictions garnered some resistance — primarily from groups of exotic animal owners who felt they were being forced to give up or kill their animals, negatively impacting their ability to make a living — the new restrictions will go into effect on January 1, 2014. In addition to posting a surety bond (or obtaining liability insurance), exotic animal owners in Ohio must do the following:
- pass a background check
- pay a fee to the state
- demonstrate to inspectors that all animals are properly cared for and secured in proper cages
Recognized sanctuaries and other institutions accredited by certified zoological organizations and research facilities will be exempt from these requirements.