Following the release of dozens of exotic animals in 2011 by Muskingum County resident, Terry Thompson, Governor John Kasich created an exotic wild animal commission and new regulations and permit requirements have gone into effect with the start of the new year. Muskingum County Sheriff Matt Lutz said the commission's main goal was to create a state wild animal response plan, and that the plan was given to Ohio's 88 counties to modify and make adjustments to fit the needs of each individual county.
"Every exotic animal owner had to have their animals registered with the Department of Agriculture in 2013," Sheriff Lutz explained. "And then, they have to have a permit off those registrations by January 1st of 2014. So most of those people that have these exotics have to have their permits by January 1st of 14, or they're gonna be in violation of that new legislation."
If those requirements aren't met, Lutz says law enforcement now has the right to confiscate animals that are not permitted. Those animals could be taken to a holding facility at the Department of Agriculture in Reynoldsburg and possibly transported to an animal sanctuary.
"We're hoping that there's never an incident like this in the state," Lutz said of the 2011 release of animals by Terry Thompson. "Obviously with the registrations and the permits and all the restrictions that are going to be placed on these owners, it's going to make it very hard for people to accumulate a large number of these animals."
Lutz said Ohio is being looked at by other states as a model for regulating exotic animals.