By Marc Kovac
A state Senate committee added more exemptions to legislation regulating the private ownership of dangerous wild animals, with a possible floor vote coming as soon as today.
The amended Senate Bill 310 would remove certain constricting snakes from regulation, recognize trained service monkeys used by disabled Ohioans, and allow some smaller animal sanctuaries to continue operating, among other changes.
The new version of the bill was accepted for discussion before Tuesday’s meeting of the Senate Agriculture Committee.
As has been the case with other hearings on the legislation, more than 100 people packed the hearing room and 30-plus people offered testimony on a bill that was developed after an incident in Zanesville in which dozens of tigers, bears and other animals were killed after being released by their suicidal owner.
SB 310 would restrict ownership of elephants, hippos, lions, monkeys and a host of other wild animals and impose a variety of permitting requirements, including care, caging and other standards.
The legislation also would create separate requirements for varieties of snakes, whose owners could continue to breed and acquire new ones, provided they obtain proper permits and meet other state requirements.
Proponents say the law changes are needed to ensure dangerous, wild animals do not end up in the homes or backyards of people who are not equipped to handle them properly.
Opponents counter that there have been few incidents in which Ohioans were hurt or killed by such animals, and that the proposed bill could be viewed as an unconstitutional taking of their private property.