I am writing to vehemently oppose your call to ban the ownership of exotic animals in Ohio. I feel your desire for Ohio to have "the strongest law in the nation" is not only unjustified but also unjust, particularly if your political values include limited government, private property rights, the protection of individual rights, and the preservation of liberty.
In order to not have this email become an essay, I will attempt to briefly explain why I oppose your current position in point-by-point fashion, with just enough detail to be clear, but you have my standing offer to discuss any point in greater detail, at your pleasure.
Point 1: The proposed ban is a knee-jerk reaction to the wild animal release by, and subsequent suicide of, Terry Thompson in Zanesville, Ohio. It is not a legislative imperative to a long standing or relevant need of the community. If instead of releasing his animals, had Mr. Thompson driven in his SUV through a crowded pedestrian crosswalk and killed a couple dozen people, would you be advocating for banning the ownership of SUVs in Ohio?? Crazy people do crazy things, and punishing upstanding, law abiding citizens of Ohio (responsible animal owners) for an act of lunacy committed by a mentally disturbed man is completely unacceptable.
Point 2: There is no significant risk to the pubic being offset by the proposed ban. Virtually of the animal related injuries associated with the animals targeted by this ban were to the owners/handlers, or someone voluntarily in immediate proximity to the animals. No wild animals are roaming about, preying on the unsuspecting public. The risk, therefore, is occupational and voluntarily accepted, not involuntarily and unknowingly assumed by the general public.
Point 3: The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) continues its assault on animal ownership (pet trade and agriculture) in the state of Ohio. As started under the Strickland administration, the HSUS has used the media sensationalized events to exploit the Thompson tragedy to further their agenda to end all animal ownership. Their stated goal is to begin with the exotics and expand the list once they have a foothold. Laws are easier modified than they are passed, so the objective is to finally get something, anything, passed in Ohio.
Point 4: This proposal needlessly expands the power of state agencies over the private lives and private property of Ohioans. This proposal grants the government sweeping power to confiscate, or "take", private property of citizens without compensation.
Point 5: The "dangerous animal" list is arbitrary and capricious. How can anyone justify a proposed ban on one type of "potentially dangerous" animal, while ignoring volumes of documented cases of death and injury from animals not legally considered "dangerous". Is dying from horse kick, cow trample, or dog mauling somehow less dead than as a result of being kicked, trampled or mauled by one of the animals on the "list"? And, as evidenced on any number of studies from a variety of sources, including the CDC, a member of the general public experiencing death/maiming by horse, cow or dog is a VASTLY more likely event. Yet there are no bans or regulatory framework proposed for the "known dangerous animals".
Point 6: Bans are legislatively lazy, as they fail to adequately address the interests of all stakeholders, as you originally committed to do. If animal welfare and public safety were truly central themes, then the discussion should be about caging standards, safety protocols, escape prevention plans, etc., not the broad elimination of personal liberties and the taking of private property.
Point 7: There has been little to no consideration given to economic impact and the potential elimination of small businesses due to unwarranted regulatory interference based on "dubious research" or in this case, no real research at all… mostly opinions, emotions and political posturing, completely ignoring the actual facts.
Point 8: The proposal does not recognize the good that comes from private ownership of exotics. Two of the most important contributions and accomplishments of private ownership of exotics may be to conservation and education. Many species of animals have been successfully reproduced in captivity, by private keepers, reducing the stress on wild populations. Private hobbyist/breeders using an economically driven business model, without government intervention or investment (i.e. no taxpayer dollars spent!) have significantly contributed to the understanding and advancement of various species reproductive and survival strategies. Considering our inability to preserve enough wild habitats, it is not unrealistic to believe that in the future some species may only survive as captive populations. And taking into account the number of species at risk, there simply are not enough zoos or public funding to save them all. Private hobbyist, using their own time, energy and financial resources, should be considered a valuable ally in the battle to eliminate unnecessary extinction and enlisted to help educate and involve our children in the continuing struggle, not a scourge to be eliminated!
Please reconsider your position on the proposed ban of exotic animal ownership in Ohio.