Just two people have acknowledged they have exotic animals — two medium-sized monkeys — in this area under a new Ohio law that required registration by Monday, a state official said.
Jesse Moore, who lives in the 7300 block of Murray Ridge Road in Elyria Township, registered a black-capped capuchin monkey, according to a spokeswoman for the Ohio Department of Agriculture.
In Vermilion Township in Erie County, Jacob Ruehlman registered a spider monkey at a home in the 8000 block of Poorman Road, the spokeswoman said.
The deadline was 5 p.m. Monday, said spokeswoman Erica Pitchford Hawkins.
By 3 p.m. Monday, she said 130 people had registered 483 exotic animals statewide.
Hawkins said some registrations still must be counted and more may trickle in by mail — they had to be postmarked Monday.
Under the law, animal owners had 60 days, beginning Sept. 5, to microchip their animals and register them with the department.
Anyone who did not register is urged to call the agricultural department’s Division of Animal Health at (614) 728-6220, Hawkins said. However, the law does not provide for a grace period, she said.
Timely registration was a requirement for anyone wishing to qualify for a wildlife shelter or propagation permit to keep any dangerous wild animal past Jan. 1, 2014. Owners who failed to register by the end of Monday will not be able to obtain either of these permits under Ohio law, according to the department.
“Our next step is to make owners aware of the interim requirements for housing and keeping animals as they become effective,” said Ohio Agriculture Director David Daniels. “Just as we worked hard to make them aware of the registration requirements and deadline, we will also work hard to educate registered animal owners about what the long-term requirements are going to be for keeping dangerous wild animals so they can determine if seeking a permit is in the best interest of their families and their animals.”
After Jan. 1, 2014, possession of all dangerous wild animals and restricted snakes will be prohibited unless the individual is exempted under the law or is granted a permit by the department. Permit applications will be made available in 2013.
On June 5, Deirdre Herbert of Elyria said she found a small measure of peace when Gov. John Kasich signed the new law that prohibits people from buying new dangerous exotic animals.
Herbert’s son, 24-year-old Brent Kandra, was mauled by a captive bear in Columbia Station in August 2010, and she hopes the new law will prevent similar tragedies.
Had the law been in effect when her son was killed, she said the criminal record of the bear’s owner, Sam Mazzola, would have kept him from owning the bears, lions, tigers and wolves he was keeping at a compound on Marks Road.
Herbert also said that the criminal record of another exotic pet owner, Terry Thompson, would have stopped him from keeping some 50 animals — including black bears, mountain lions and Bengal tigers — on his farm in Zanesville.
It was Thompson’s release of his wild animals before his suicide in October 2011 that focused worldwide attention on the problem when authorities shot and killed many of the animals.
Thompson’s wife, Marian, who successfully sought the return of the surviving animals, registered as an exotic pet owner Monday, according to Hawkins.
Marian told the state she planned to keep the animals, didn’t need help relocating them and indicated that she did not know of anything that would disqualify her from owning them.
Strengthening Ohio laws on exotics was “desperately needed” and is “pretty strong,” said Debbie Leahy, manager of captive animal protection for the Humane Society of America.
But she said those people who did not register their animals could continue to cause problems because “nobody knows how big the problem is.”
“We’re very concerned about that particular situation in Zanesville,” Leahy said. “By all accounts people who had been to that facility described horrific conditions — filthy and small cages.”
Mazzola, who died in an unrelated accidental death following Kandra’s mauling, “did not provide a proper environment for those animals, and neither did Terry Thompson,” Leahy said.
Contact Cindy Leise at 329-7245 or firstname.lastname@example.org.