It was the first home-rule ordinance enacted here.
By PETER H. MILLIKEN
VINDICATOR STAFF WRITER
AUSTINTOWN -- Township trustees have unanimously enacted an ordinance that severely limits the circumstances under which exotic animals can be kept in the township.
The ordinance, passed Monday and taking effect in 30 days, is the first to be enacted by trustees under home rule, a limited form of self-government trustees approved March 11.
The ordinance defines exotic animals as reptiles with poisonous venom, constricting snakes, foreign animals and predatory animals not native to Ohio, whose size, strength, bite or claws make them dangerous to people or other animals. The ordinance specifically mentions alligators, crocodiles, bears, lions, tigers and leopards as exotic animals.
Those wishing to keep exotic animals or endangered species must follow certain steps.
Violations of the ordinance are civil misdemeanors punishable by fines of $250 for the first offense, $500 for the second offense, $750 for the third offense and $1,000 for each additional offense.
After hearing objections from residents, trustees deleted from the ordinance last month a section imposing citations on owners of dogs that bark excessively and requiring liability insurance for vicious dogs. State law already regulates dogs, Trustee Chairman David Ditzler said.
Trustees will ask the county prosecutor's office whether exotic pets already kept in the township are exempt from the ordinance, Ditzler said. Ditzler added that he thinks residents whose pets are exempt will be required to report these animals and their locations to township authorities.
The enactment of the long-discussed exotic pet ordinance under home rule follows submission of petition signatures from 1,851 township residents seeking a November referendum on whether home rule should exist in the township. Home rule was defeated by township voters in 1992, 1995 and 1997. The margin of defeat in 1997 was less than 10 votes.