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Animal Experts: Exotic Pet Law Working, But Animals Still Easy to Get
DAYTON -- We've had our fair share of exotic animal problems in Ohio. From the tigers and bears that had to be shot and killed in Zanesville, to the venomous snake that killed a Dayton firefighter a few years ago. Now that they're illegal here and laws are much stricter, we should be seeing less of them. But it turns out exotic animals are fairly easy to acquire.
As the Veterinarian explained "Right Boot's" health problems Sunday night, Tim Harrison sat in the background in dismay.
"Broke my heart, I realized this guy needs some TLC," said Harrison who's with "Outreach for Animals." They advocate for respecting wildlife and the safety of humans. The retired Oakwood Police officer's rescued dozens upon dozens of exotic animals - many of them in Ohio. It was all profiled in a documentary, "Elephant in the Living Room."
"You can buy a cobra, you can buy an alligator but you can't buy common sense," said Harrison who explained that, "When people buy these things, they honestly think they're doing the right thing, they think they're saving this animal."
The film also exposed just how easy it is to buy animals at auction.
"A bunch of them out there. They're easy to get, they were legal for a period of time and people think they're still legal. Everybody wants one so why not? Everyone says when they get to big I'll just give them to the zoo but the zoo can't take them."
We did a simple search for exotic animals for sale in Ohio -- dozens of web sites come up. One web site sells venomous snakes, all you need to do is contact its owner, get a PayPal address, and enter your credit card information. And a quick look at Craigslist on Wednesday, there is another alligator for sale in Dayton.
Thanks in part to Tim, it is illegal to sell or purchase exotic animal in Ohio; and the law is deterring the crime. The auctions are much harder to come by, and people are calling his group to hand over the animals weekly.
"Take it from a retired police officer, 80 percent of the population will do what the law tells them, so if they're walking with little bobby at the flee market, I want an alligator - you can't it's against the law."
Come January 1, 2014, all exotic pet owners who haven't registered their pet with the state risk losing it. Tim thinks he'll be in for a busy year.
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