Exotic Animal Bill Finally Introduced
General Assembly to Consider Simultaneously; Also, Paws to Read at Mentor Libraries All Summer
The bill is on the table.
On March 8, the proposed legislation (and it's more than 45 pages long, so get comfortable) was introduced in the Ohio Senate by Sen. Troy Balderson and the Ohio House of Representatives by Rep. Brian Hill, both Zanesville Republicans, in response to what happened in Zanesville last October.
If passed, the bill would immediately ban all private ownership of exotic animals; those who still had them would need to comply with strict regulations by January 1, 2014.
Zoos, circuses, sanctuaries and research facilities would be exempt from the 2014 deadline, but other exotic animal owners would need a permit, background check, insurance, microchips for their animals and a pledge to abide by certain care and safety measures.
Noncompliant owners would forfeit their animals to a zoo, sanctuary or the like.
Balderson said passage would “accurately navigate the fine line between the public safety, animal welfare and personal property.” He and Hill hope their simultaneous introductions will get the bill moving through the General Assembly and approved as soon as possible — something that already has the backing of Gov. John Kasich and the Columbus Zoo.
The Ohio Association of Animal Owners is critical of the bill, however, and the Humane Society of the United States is skeptical over certain items, including items about Ohio's large snake industry. (Per the bill, owners could keep, breed and acquire constricting and venemous snakes, but would need safety plans in place in case of escape.)
Balderson's bill is currently in the Ohio Senate's Agriculture, Environment and Natural Resources Committee; Hill's has yet to enter committee in the Ohio House. I'll keep you updated.
On an unrelated note, doctors have long known animals have a special power to help people. Now scientists are getting research grants to study the impact of animals on child development, treatments and public health through a new program of the National Institute for Child Health and Human Development.
Some local evidence that therapy animals are more than just warm fuzzies: Paws to Read, which returns to Mentor Public Library throughout this summer one Wednesday a month, with reservable 30-minute sessions available between 6:30 and 7:30 p.m.
This awesome program pairs kids age 6 to 12 who can read independently with a gentle dog who is licensed and trained to be a good listener. The dynamic between child and dog can be especially inspiring and sweet — and you should hear these kids read without fear to their furry friends. Hearing it was proof enough for me to believe.
If you have a child who loves animals and could use some extra practice reading, note these dates on your calendar — sessions fill up fast as they open — and register to come see for yourself.
Registration is staggered on www.mentorpl.org: open March 28 for April 11 sessions at the Mentor-on-the-Lake branch; May 2 for May 16 sessions at the main branch; May 30 for June 13 sessions at the main branch; and July 3 for July 18 sessions at the Mentor-on-the-Lake branch.