Update #2 ·

Four former mascot cubs seized by Ohio officials

A menagerie of exotic animals, including 4 former Massillon mascots, have been seized by the Ohio Department of Agriculture after their owner, Kenny Hetrick, was unable to comply with the state's strict exotic animal laws. Regulators denied Hetrick's permit application because it was filed extremely late and because inspectors had several concerns about how the animals were housed. 

On January 28th, a team from Ohio's Department of Agriculture, under the supervision of veterinarians, tranquilized the animals and moved them to the state's multi-million dollar Dangerous Wild Animal Temporary Holding Facility. According to the veterinarians, the animals have all safely recovered from the tranquilizers used during transport and seem to be in good spirits. “They are quite content in our nice warm building,” said Dr. Tony Forshey, chief of the state’s Division of Animal Health. While staying at the indoor, heated facility, the animals will enjoy daily enrichment and be checked by veterinarians for health problems.

Most of the animals (with the exception of a geriatric lion) were reported to be in good shape, though the results of blood work to assess potential kidney, liver, and nutritional issues are not expected until early next week. If the state has its way, all 11 animals will eventually be released to Lions, Tigers, and Bears, an accredited sanctuary in Alpine, California, where they can live out the rest of their lives enjoying large, natural enclosures.

But Mr. Hetrick, who believes that his animals were always well-kept, plans to exhaust "every possible avenue" to get his beloved animals back, and has urged a local judge to order the animals returned -- an order which the state is fighting, arguing that the conditions on Hetrick's property were “inhumane, dangerous to the animals, and unsafe for Mr. Hetrick’s neighbors and the public at large.”

A hearing that could decide the fate of the animals is scheduled for Tuesday.

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