I know it was a matter of public safety, and I can’t say I have an answer to how officials could have or should have handled the situation, but the shooting death of 49 wild animals brings me to tears.
I’m speaking of the situation in Ohio yesterday, where the owner of a 73-acre exotic animal farm opened all of the animal enclosures as well as the front gates, setting his collection of animals free, before shooting himself in the head. So what happened to these confused animals who suddenly wound up in places they were not permitted? They became the enemy. The wild beasts officials felt forced to slaughter.
It’s said the animals had remained close together, near the open gates of the farm. They were not on the attack.
But in fairness, who could know this for sure?
Even Jack Hanna – an animal lover I greatly admire – said officials had no choice. Night had fallen and the public safety concerns of the day had grown deeper.
I’m struggling with this. To see the bodies of these magnificent animals strewn upon the ground… it’s simply heartbreaking.
Why this man was allowed to own these animals is what baffles me. He had a criminal record. He’d been convicted of animal abuse for neglecting cattle on a hill he could not climb. He did not call for anyone to help and so they starved to death. Just this summer, he served time for weapons violations – 100 guns were found on his property. Add to that, the Ohio legislature’s failure to renew a law stating that people convicted of animal abuse or neglect could not own animals, and you have the makings for an avoidable disaster.
And that’s exactly what yesterday’s massacre was. An avoidable disaster.
Here is a more accurate take on that issue from MSN news –
An executive order issued by former Gov. Ted Strickland just days before he left office in January prohibited people convicted of animal cruelty from owning exotic animals. The administration of current Gov. John Kasich allowed the order to expire in April, noting concerns about its enforceability and its impact on small businesses.
There is nothing we can do about the heartbreaking events of yesterday. Those animals had no idea what was going on and died because some lowlife who ‘owned’ them set them “free”, knowing perfectly well what their fate would be.
However, there may be something we can do about other exotic animals. We can take a stand, as the Humane Society of the United States is urging, and see to it that laws about exotic animal ownership are changed and enforced – for the benefit of the public as well as the animals. You can do that by contacting the governor of Ohio or by sending your thoughts to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources via the link below. I’ve sent my thoughts. I can only hope you will send yours as well.
Whatever we do, we cannot allow something like this happen again.
EDITED – SATURDAY – OCTOBER 22, 2011
The Humane Society has just released a statement regarding Ohio Governor John Kasich’s lackluster response to the Exotic Animal Horror that occurred in his state because his administration failed to renew a law protecting the public and animals alike. The Humane Society’s statement, explanation and plea for help is here – Ohio’s Response Lacks Teeth.