By CELESTE BAUMGARTNER
COLUMBUS, Ohio — Dangerous wild animal and restricted snake owners are now required to register their animals with the Ohio Department of Agriculture (ODA). This is a result of state Senate Bill 310, which regulates possession of dangerous wild animals and restricted snakes.
Gov. John Kasich signed the bill into law earlier this year. “As of September 5, 2012, the law became effective,” said Ashley McDonald, public information officer for ODA.
“What happens right away is that offering dangerous wild animals and restricted snakes for sale by auction is prohibited. Allowing a dangerous wild animal or restricted snake to roam off the property where it is confined is now illegal.”
Additionally, the law prohibits any person from:
•Knowingly removing a microchip that is implanted into a dangerous wild animal
•Removing any teeth or claws from a dangerous wild animal or restricted snake
•Failing to comply with signage requirements
•Knowingly releasing a dangerous wild animal or restricted snake into the wild
“It is punishable as a first-degree misdemeanor for first offense and could potentially be a felony for any subsequent offenses,” McDonald said.
Along with those provisions, dangerous wild animal and restricted snake owners are required to register their animals by Nov. 5, McDonald said. Also, the law requires all animals are to be microchipped at the time of their registration.
“Most animal owners already have a veterinarian that they work with,” she said. “It is recommended that they work with their veterinarian to get that microchip implanted in the animal.”
The registration form is online on ODA’s website. Animal owners can print the form and fill it out. It must be hand-signed and then sent to ODA.
The governor is in the process of naming a board to oversee the regulations and provisions that go into place for the care and the caging requirement of these dangerous wild animals. Once the board is in place, temporary standards and methods of enforcement will be established.
Permit applications will be available in 2013, McDonald said. After Jan. 1, 2014, possession of dangerous wild animals and restricted snakes will be prohibited unless the individual is exempted under the bill or is granted a permit by ODA.
“After that January 1, 2014, date if you haven’t been permitted and you haven’t registered, there is a possibility that the ODA could potentially seize those animals,” McDonald said. “If you haven’t applied for the permit, you are not following the standards that have been set up by that board.”
The registration is essentially information-gathering for the ODA to gauge how many such animals are out there, what species they are and where they are in the state, McDonald said. It is required by law to register, but the permit is really what ODA will use to determine whether or not the animal owners are able to keep their livestock.
“Our goal is to have our temporary standards in place by the end of the year; we want to work with the animal owners, we just want to try to maintain the public safety while also maintaining the welfare of these animals, to make sure that all of Ohio is safe during this process,” McDonald said.
The registration forms are available online at www.agri.ohio.gov/TopNews/ DangerousWildAnimalAct