New Ohio Exotics Bill Sent to Gov

Update May 26, 2012: A revised S.B. 310, a bill to regulate ownership of dangerous exotic animals has now passed both the Ohio Senate and House of Representatives. The bill has been sent to Gov. John Kasich who is expected to sign it. Here is a summary of the bill’s provisions. 

Update March 19, 2012:  A new bill to regulate ownership of dangerous exotic animals has been introduced in the Ohio Senate, S.B. 310 by state Sen. Troy Balderson. The bill would allow Ohioans to continue to own dangerous exotic animals as long as they obtain a permit by 2014.  Until that time owners of these animals must register them with the Department of Agriculture. Then before January 1, 2014, they must obtain a wildlife shelter or propagation permit. A separate permit is required for certain snakes. The bill provides for standards for keeping, handling, transporting and caring for these animals though there are a number of exemptions. The Department would have authority to inspect and suspend or revoke permits of those found in violations and also issue quarantine, seizure or transfer orders. There is a scheme for imposing civil penalties as well.

The bill prohibits auctions of dangerous wild animals or venomous snakes.

The bill creates an advisory board and also requires the Department to maintain a database of persons who have registrations or permits to keep these animals. Go here for a detailed summary of this bill. 

For more on a House of Representatives bill that remains pending and the history behind why these bills have been introduced, read Animal Law Coalition’s report below. 

Update January 19, 2012: Ohio state Rep. Debbie Phillips introduced a bill, H.B. 352, that would basically prohibit Ohioans from acquiring any dangerous exotic animal after the bill is signed into law. Those who already have dangerous exotic animals would be required to register but would not be able to obtain a registration if the person has been convicted of animal abuse or neglect under any federal, state or local law or has had a permit or license for the care, possession, exhibition, breeding, or sale of animals suspended or revoked by any agency.  The division of wildlife would be responsible for administration and enforcement and must at a minimum require these animals to be micro-chipped. There are a number of exceptions.

After the terrible tragedy last year as described in Animal Law Coalition’s report below, you would think this bill would be a no-brainer. But no. Rep. Debbie Phillips is circulalting an email, claiming the Ohio House of Representatives leadership is stalling her bill, despite wide public support.  The Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee where the bill is currently pending has refused, says Rep. Phillips, to hold a hearing on the bill. 


Find committee members here. (Just click on their names for contact info.) Rep. Dave Hall is the Chair. Here is the House of Representatives leadership.(Again, just click on their names to find contact info.) Find your own Ohio state represenative here. (Just fill in the info in the upper right of the page.) Write (faxes or letters are best) or call committee members, the House leadership and your own rep and urge them to hold a hearing on H.B. 352 and support this important legislation.  You can also just call the Capitol at 800-282-0253 and ask for these reps and leave them a message. BE POLITE.

Original report 10/21/11: Ohio Gov. John Kasich has signed an Executive Order as what he says is the first step in addressing the issue of Ohioans owning wild animals.  The Order was issued in response to the tragedy and fear that resulted this past week when Terry Thompson, owner of Muskingum County Animal Farm near Zanesville, Ohio, let nearly 50 wild animals loose and then killed himself.

Local sheriff’s deputies did not bother to arrange to try to trap or shoot the animals with tranquilizers and save them. Instead, they simply shot and killed 49 animals, leaving only six who were spared only because conservationists with tranquilizers arrived on the scene. 

The tragedy in Ohio brings home the need for a state law that prohibits people from keeping wild animals. Wild animals are not pets. They are not for show or exhibition; they are not an accessory. Wild animals belong in the wild.   

An order signed by the previous Governor  Gov. Ted Strickland was to have resulted in a regulation that would ban private ownership of wild dangerous animals. Gov. Kasich allowed that order to lapse on March 6, 2011.  

The new Order contains tough talk, promising a toll free hotline and website for public complaints and reports regarding dangerous wild animals. Local health departments are also to accept such reports and complaints. The Department of Agriculture is directed to enter into agreements with livestock dealers, auctioneers and auction firms for a "temporary moratorium" on the sale of any wild dangerous animals" in Ohio.

Gov. Kasich’s order indicates he expects legislation for the importation, regulation, and licensure of dangerous wild animals to be proposed by November 30, 2011. 

Also, state agencies are to conduct an "investigation and inquiry" into every place where dangerous wild animals are kept. These agencies are to work with local agencies as well as humane societies, veterinarians, "sportsmen" and "conservation groups" to identify such places. The state agencies are to work with local agencies including by staffing humane societies to enforce laws for the prevention of cruelty to animals as well as those to protect people. The premises of breeders of "potentially dangerous wild" animals native to Ohio are to be inspected and the conditions documented.

State agencies are also directed to identify safe places to put impounded or confiscated wild animals.

Ohio currently does not regulate the private ownership of wild animals. The governor expressed concern about his authority to regulate nonnative wild animals via executive order or regulation.  

For more on laws relating to exotic or wild animals as pets…..

PA Dog Law Enforcement Rolled Back

Lack of Dog Law enforcement

Following a meeting on April 26, 2012 of the Pennsylvania Dog Law Advisory Board – its first since Gov. Tom Corbett took office in January, 2011, Mainline Animal Rescue put it this way: 

Director of [the Bureau of] Dog Law [Enforcement] Lynn Diehl confirmed what many animal welfare advocates already knew to be true – the Department of Agriculture is no longer enforcing laws designed to protect dogs in the Commonwealth’s largest commercial dog breeding facilities. Long known as the "Puppy Mill Capital of the East," Pennsylvania’s legislature, at the urging of Pennsylvania’s citizens, passed new laws in 2008 that would end the suffering of millions of breeding dogs in PA’s puppy mills. At a meeting of the Dog Law Advisory Board on Wednesday, Diehl and Agricultural Deputy Secretary Mike Pechart announced that the Office of Dog Law Enforcement will not enforce key aspects of Act 119, and high volume dog breeding kennels can stay open even if they are in violation of the law. Angry members of the DLAB questioned the Department’s legal right to pick and choose what part of the law to enforce.

Members of the Dog Law Advisory Board said only 17 of 52 commercial kennels are in compliance with certain regulations relating to temperature, humidity, ventilation and ammonia. Yet, they were supposed to be in compliance nearly a year ago. 

Amy Worden, a politics and government reporter for the Philadelphia Inquirer described that Gov. Corbett is giving dog breeders that violate the law "a pass" and allows them to stay in business.  Indeed. Diehl claimed it was preferable to "keep them licensed" than have the kennels "going underground".  Sadly, Department of Agriculture Executive Deputy Secretary Michael Pechart agrees with her. It’s the equivalent of saying we should allow drunk drivers to continue to drive without penalty and regardless of the deaths or injuries they cause, because otherwise drunk drivers will drive illegally. 

Diehl also no longer inspects most kennels and said there is no incentive to issue citations because her bureau cannot obtain more than $77,000 from a citation. The rest goes into the treasury under state law. Again, that’s like saying the highway patrol should not stop drivers in violation of the law because their agency does not get to keep all of the money.

The Washington Post reports that former dog warden supervisor Diane Buhl resigned because she said wardens must first get Diehl’s permission before they could issue citations to breeders or report their cruelty to the dogs.  

Diehl has made the job of enforcement, catching and prosecuting violators of breeding regulations and animal cruelty laws much tougher.  

Mainline Animal Rescue points out, "Diehl who claims the Department is running out of money but has done little to increase revenue in the past nine months, was hired last June with no experience at an annual salary of $80,000, more than twice what many long time kennel inspectors earn. In recent weeks, Diehl has laid off key personnel including state kennel inspectors. Secretary Pechart refused to confirm or deny that state vet Danielle Ward, the only veterinarian working within the ODLE, had been let go as well. Pechart, whose annual salary exceeds $120,000 a year, stated weeks before Wednesday’s meeting that the ODLE could not afford to pay Dr. Ward. Dr. Ward is charged with ensuring the health and well being of countless puppy mill dogs and has often testified against substandard kennel operators in court."

Mainline Animal Rescue said, "Animal advocates throughout the Commonwealth fear that the Department is once again being controlled by the puppy mill industry, and the will of the people of Pennsylvania is largely being ignored. Since Diehl and Pechart took office many of the commercial kennels housing hundreds of breeding dogs have been inspected half as often as PA’s shelters and rescues, inspection reports have failed to be posted online, and morale at the ODLE among state kennel inspectors is at an all time low. Secretary of Agriculture George Greig left shortly after Wednesday’s meeting began, stating he had other things to do." 

Go here for information about 2010 Department of Agriculture regulations approved by Gov. Corbett that gutted key portions of the 2008 Dog Law. 


Tell the Secretaries to once again post inspection reports for commercial kennels online so we know they are being inspected.  Tell them to cite and close any kennel that has failed to install the required meters regulating temperature and humidity (required in commercial kennels as of July 1, 2010).  Tell them to stop paying non-Dog Law employees out of Dog Law’s restricted account.  And tell them to stop using the excuse/threat of bankruptcy not to enforce our new laws.  The Department is solvent now and the laws need to be enforced now!  Be polite but adamant.  They will tell you they have no money – don’t believe it.  It’s just an excuse to protect PA’s substandard kennels.  After a year on the job, why haven’t they done anything to increase revenue (if that is really the problem).

Write to:


CA Gov. Brown Vetoes Mandatory Micro-chipping

Update Oct. 2011: California Gov. Jerry Brown has vetoed Senate Bill 702, the Robo-Rover bill, that would have would require microchipping of dogs and cats when they are adopted from a shelter or rescue or retrieved by their person from a shelter after they have been found lost and impounded.

Though advocates for the bill said the cost would be covered by impoundment or adoption fees, the governor had this to say, "Under current law, local agencies and shelters can — and should — require animals to be microchipped before being released. There is no need for state law to mandate the procedure, which would then require the state to pay for it."  

For more on this bill, read Animal Law Coalition’s report below. 

Sept. 2, 2011 Report: California Senate Bill 702, has been sent to Gov. Jerry Brown for his signature. The bill passed the Assembly last week by a vote of 50-23. The bill previously passed the Senate by a vote of 32-6.

The bill, also called the Robo-Rover bill, would require microchipping of dogs and cats when they are adopted from a shelter or rescue or retrieved by their person from a shelter after they have been found lost and impounded.

The sponsor, state Sen. Ted Lieu, stated that more than 1 million dogs and cats are impounded every year in California. Many are euthanized because their families cannot be located.  An American Veterinary Medical Association study found that 73 percent of microchipped pets are likely to find their way home from a shelter. In California, only 11 percent are reunited with their families. 

New LA Dangerous Dog Law Set to Take Effect

dogA new Los Angeles County law is set to go into effect next week. (See attachment below.)

Under the new law animal control will have the authority to declare dogs "potentially dangerous" or "vicious". Previously only judges could make those determinations. An appeal is available, but people with dogs will have fewer due process rights under this new law. There is no criteria for making this determination or evidence that should or should not be considered other than the definitions of "potentially dangerous"  or "vicious".

The new law also relaxes the definition of a "vicious" dog, allowing animal control to declare a dog "vicious" for inflicting any "physical harm that results in a serious illness or injury" rather than only "major fractures, muscle tears or disfiguring lacerations" or an injury that "requires multiple sutures or corrective or cosmetic surgery". It is not clear what is meant by "any physical harm" or a "serious illness or injury"; apparently that will be for animal control to determine.

Dept. of Animal Care and Control (DACC) Director Marcia Mayeda has been quoted as saying, ""There doesn’t necessarily have to be a bite".

The new law does set a minimum for training that people with dogs declared "potentially dangerous" are required to undergo – at least 10 days of training that must be approved by animal control. 

Animal control would have the authority to make follow up visits to ensure compliance with requirements for potentially dangerous or vicious dogs and could obtain an injunction to stop violations. 

The new law is likely to mean many more dogs will be declared "potentially dangerous" or "vicious".

California state law does allow cities and counties to use any, all or none of the state laws in creating their own "program" to control potentially dangerous or vicious dogs. Cal Food & Agr Code § 31683 But it is not clear local governments have the authority to change state law definitions of "potentially dangerous" or "vicious" dogs.  Sec. 31604

Also, state law does allow local governments to conduct determinations of whether a dog is "potentially dangerous" or "vicious" in administrative proceedings. But the state lawy requires that the petition must first be filed in Superior Court and then can be referred for an administrative hearing under a procedure set up by the county or city.  The Los Angeles County proposal does not follow the state law and instead allows an administrative hearing with no filing in court. Sec. 31683

It is troubling that there is no truly "neutral" factfinder under the new law. The county has also eliminated the requirement of notice via first class mail, return receipt requested. Now animal control is only required to mail notice of a hearing concerning a potentially dangerous or vicious dog determination.  Only 5 days notice is required. And, a person whose dog is declared potentially dangerous or vicious only has 5 days to appeal. There are questions about whether this meets federal and state due process requirements.