In the wake of the incident in Zanesville Ohio, where a disturbed man released lions, tigers and bears from his facility prior to committing suicide, pressure has come down from Governor Kasich's office to BAN many exotic animals; including hundreds of species of reptiles. It is important to remember that there were NO reptiles involved in the release at Zanesville. Further, it can be demonstrated statistically and historically that reptiles pose virtually NO PUBLIC SAFETY RISK in Ohio or anywhere else. There is a moderate occupational risk taken on by those who work with certain reptiles, but accidents are extremely rare when taken in the context of other more traditional pets or livestock. On average there is less than one death per year associated with a captive reptile. No member of the public, outside of a reptile keepers facility, has ever been killed by a captive reptile. Every life is precious, but working with reptiles is far less dangerous than keeping some traditional pets, equestrian or even driving a car. These activities, although far more dangerous than the keeping of ANY reptiles, are commonly accepted risks in modern society. USARK rejects the inclusion of ANY REPTILES in Dangerous Animal Legislation (DAL) in Ohio.
It is no secret that the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), a radical animal rights organization, has targeted the Reptile Industry in Ohio. They have intentionally mischaracterized the risks involved in working with reptiles in order to use the Zanesville incident to enforce the policy position they have held since the 1980's; NO REPTILES IN CAPTIVITY. They were included in a work group tasked with providing recommendations to the Governor regarding exotic animals. USARK was denied the opportunity to contribute our expertise in regards to the reptile industry. There was no one with expertise regarding reptiles and the reptile industry included; even though reptiles represent 90% of the animals being considered. According to a survey done by Georgetown Economic Services the reptile industry equates to approximately $30 million annually in Ohio. There are approximately 225,000 facilities/households that are currently operating in Ohio. Any talk of including reptiles in a ban has been primarily motivated by HSUS because they are targeting the keeping of reptiles for ideological reasons at the federal, state and local level nationwide.
USARK Opposes a BAN on ANY Reptiles in Ohio! We have been actively engaged in Ohio for about 18 months. Over the last 2 months, USARK and our allies have met with the leadership of Ohio Dept of Natural Resources (ODNR) and Ohio Dept of Agriculture (ODA). There has been a recommendation forwarded through ODNR to Governor Kasich as the basis for a new piece of legislation to ban many animals in Ohio. Senator Troy Balderson and Representative Dave Hall are the likely sponsors of such a bill. USARK has met and consulted with Senator Balderson, the Senate lead in bill drafting. He has voiced skepticism about the inclusion of reptiles in any DAL. We are working closely with his office to insure the interests of the Reptile Nation are served in Ohio. Indications suggest that a bill of some sort will be introduced in late January or early February.
***The current bill, HB352 introduced by Representative Phillips, has lost all momentum after a landslide of oppostion from USARK and the Reptile Nation! Thank you for participating! Nothing of substance has happened yet with any new DAL... Stay Tuned to USARK for the latest cutting edge information on the Reptile Industry. We will call on you to take action in Ohio when the time is right!
If you live in Ohio or have friends in Ohio please share this ALERT with them. If you are not a member of USARK, Join Us & Help Protect Your Rights! Follow USARK on Facebook and Twitter. Get the latest UPDATES as they happen. There is Strength in Numbers! The Reptile Nation needs your help TODAY!