Exotic Animal Escape, One Year Later

by Erika Brooks on May 2, 2014 at 9:30 am

One year ago, suicidal owner Terry Thompson released dozens of wild animals from his Kopchak Road farm. Now, Ohio has tighter restrictions for owning exotic animals.

Owners are required to register their animals with the state. The law also bans people from buying and selling dangerous wild animals. Muskingum County Sheriff Matt Lutz, who oversaw the response to the animals release, says this is a step in the right direction.

"We didn’t have anything in place a year ago and today we’ve already seen where animals have been taken off of private property so it’s proven that its going to be effective, it’s already been affective," said Sheriff Lutz.

A new commission will enforce the exotic animal legislation and Sheriff Lutz will represent local law enforcement on the task force. Zanesville state Highway Patrol Post Commander Lieutenant Steven Rine was one of the first on the scene last year and says Lutz is the perfect choice for the commission.

"They couldn’t have picked a better person to represent that. With this experience under his belt he gained a lot of notoriety and he’s got some great resources available to him and some experience," said Lt. Rine.

Owners have until November 5th to register their animals. A full ban takes effect January 1, 2014.