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State shows patience with exotic animal

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Posted by: EricWI at Sun Nov 18 07:43:16 2012  [ Report Abuse ] [ Email Message ] [ Show All Posts by EricWI ]  
   

State shows patience with exotic animal owners

Ten days after the deadline to register privately owned exotic animals in Ohio passed, the Ohio Department of Agriculture is declining to release a full list of owners and animals because many of the 11th-hour submissions are missing key information.

On Oct. 31, the agriculture department provided a then-current list of owners who had come forward, what animals they owned and where they were located — although only 36 individuals had come forward at that point. On the afternoon of deadline day, Nov. 5, the department released an early count of 130 owners who claimed 483 animals.

Since then, officials have declined to update the list, citing errors in the registration forms and a need to resolve those problems before releasing more information to the public.

Agriculture department spokeswoman Erica Hawkins said “two or three dozen” forms — all of which were among the registrations to come in as the 11:59 p.m. deadline approached — were missing crucial pieces of information.

Most common among those omissions are serial numbers of microchips that owners were supposed to have implanted into their animals before the deadline. The microchips identify the animals that have been “grandfathered” in before the trade of those species was banned under the Ohio Dangerous Wild Animal Act.

Anyone who did not report their animals to the state by Nov. 5, according to the new law, loses the right to keep that animal in the future. Those registrations that were incomplete, including those in which owners apparently have not yet satisfied the microchip component of the law, but were received ahead of the deadline will be considered timely, Hawkins said.

“If they got something to us by the deadline and are continuing to keep us informed on their efforts to complete any information that is missing then we will consider their registration as being timely,” she said.

Four exotic animal owners filed a lawsuit seeking invalidation of the entire law on the last business day before the deadline. The two sides agreed on the day of the deadline that the state would not pursue enforcement before a court hearing Dec. 10.

Hawkins said the lawsuit is not coloring how the departments’ officials are responding to registration form problems.

“Forms that came in after the deadline, this conversation is moot,” she said, meaning they would not be afforded the right to keep their animals. “We’re trying to work with folks as much as we can.”

The department and some of these owners are going to be in a working relationship for some time, depending on the age of the animals they own, and it’s smart not to send the wrong message at the beginning, said Pamela White, owner of the American Primate Education Sanctuary in Blacklick and a member of the Ohio Dangerous and Restricted Animals Advisory Board.

“Thank God (the department) didn’t go that way,” White said. “(The department) is going to try and do everything legally in their power to work with people. They have rules and regulations and laws they have to follow but, if there’s a way around, they want to work with people.”

White, who said she complied with the registration conditions, said there is a lot of misplaced trust with some of the state’s exotic animal owners. Hawkins said several owners also declined to include their Social Security numbers, which was legally required, on their registration.
www.newarkadvocate.com/article/20121117/NEWS01/311170014?fb_comment_id=fbc_455398271177849_4783120_455873914463618


   

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