Posted in: Animal News

Ohio Exotic Pets Legislation May Have Unintended Consequences For Educators

dave sagan hocking woods nature center

Ohio’s exotic pet legislation was stopped in its tracks last week when a federal lawsuit was filed by four animal owners. An injunction prevents the Ohio Dangerous Exotic Pets Act from being implemented until a hearing on filers’ claims is held.

The exotic animals lawsuit reportedly maintains that it is a violation of Constitutional rights to remove “property” if the exotic animal owners do not comply with the new regulations. The legal challenge was issued on the eve of the deadline to register dangerous exotic pets with the state.

The Inquisitr sat down with Hocking Woods Nature Center Director Dave Sagan to find out why some animal educators are opposed to the new dangerous exotic pet legislation.

IQ – How will the pending Ohio exotic pet legislation impact the educational work you do at Hocking College and with the public?

Sagan – The 12 foot restricted snake rule is an arbitrary “out of the hat” rule that was put forth by someone who is phobic of snakes, not for any real reason beyond neurotic fear. I have four pythons over 12 feet and they are all gentle and nice. These animals have been touched by tens of thousands of people, and now I cannot use them solely based on length? Show me the research or data that supports this?

IQ – What parts of the law do you consider necessary to help protect both the exotic animals and the public?

Sagan – The public safety argument is for people who are content with their ignorance’s and fears. The more than 30 animals that were released, not escaped, released, near Zanesville last year were all killed in a matter or hours by law enforcement. There is no measurable public safety issue here, just the overall perception of one, and of course, a very easy one to sell to the public. Lions, tigers, and bears, oh my. Besides, requiring a name of a veterinarian, there is very little about care and protection of animals.

IQ – If you could alter portions of the exotic pets statute, what changes would you make?

Sagan – Most of it would go, but … have specific requirements that address the animals captive care and management with the animals well-being in mind, and draw these up for the kinds of animals they are, instead of lumping all this together. Large cats and bears have more in common with dogs, than they do with pythons.

IQ – What exactly does the pending lawsuit seek to stop or amend in the passed legislation?

Sagan – The new law was very poorly written. It was originally put forth as SB 45 back in the 07-08 session and it confusing, discriminatory, overly punitive, and very heavy handed on regulations. It went nowhere. It was a turd. When Zanesville happened, that turd was polished to a shine and became law. I believe the Governor wanted something in place ASAP. The current laws are being picked apart on dozens of legal points, which means, we are more than likely going to have to do this all again. Maybe this time they will actually listen.

The Hocking Woods Nature Center features an interpretive building, wildlife habitats, ponds, walkways, and feed stations. The staff and students offer seasonal programming for the public, groups of school children, and scout troops. Students in the college’s Natural and Historical Interpretation program use the Center to design activities, learn about the eco-system, and provide care for injured birds in the Raptor Rehab Center.

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