How does this happen?

When this happened the other day, there were a lot more upset people than I thought there would be. I hate news stories like this about animals and most times I have to leave the room or turn the channel. Puppy mill stories do me right in. But there was no getting away from this one. It was EVERYWHERE. When I saw all those magnificent animals laying dead, one after the other, it nearly killed me to see it.

Who does this? What makes a person decide to “collect” exotic animals? I could “maybe” understand if you got or had 1. But not to this extent. What would make this man collect all these animals and then free them and kill himself? He had to know what was going to happen. Here are the laws of Minnesota.

The next question has me thinking why would any SANE person not do something about this BEFORE this tragedy had a chance to happen? The police had been called there on a few occasions for minor things and a few of the animals had gotten out a few times so why didn’t someone do or say something? This is just wrong. Neighbors interviewed said this was a nice guy. But they did get afraid at times thinking some of those big animals would get out. How could you not always have that in the back of your mind. Any lion, tiger or bear could just pop out at you any time, day or night. How could you even live like that?

I really think this is a law that needs to change. I don’t think anyone should be allowed to have their own zoo. It’s not fair to anyone, animals included.

What do you think? It doesn’t look like the outcome of this one could have been avoided.

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17 Responses to How does this happen?

  1. SKL says:

    This happened near my neck of the woods. Not far from where my kids & I drove a few weeks ago. I’m used to seeing signs here and there for a “zoo” that is clearly privately owned. It’s not my thing, personally, but I could see why it would hold attraction for some types of people.

    I didn’t know until recently that Ohio laws are unusually liberal in this regard. I have no idea why that is. I guess I never really thought about it one way or the other. I just assumed that exotic animals in captivity would be regulated. More for the animals’ safety than anything else.

    That said, I haven’t heard that there were any atrocities in this guy’s “zoo” (when he was alive). Yeah, I heard there were some minor issues, but when people are routinely starving horses and setting dogs to fight to the death, it sounds like this guy wasn’t all that bad to his critters. I do think he was a looney tune. He couldn’t take care of the animals, so he figured nobody else would either, or whatever. Maybe he figured that they would be euthanized if the state got hold of them, so he might as well give them a chance to run. I don’t know. Maybe it was his way of flipping off the world before leaving the stage.

    I hate to make policy based on what an isolated lunatic does. Obviously I don’t want to see anyone abuse animals, but it seems that the problems I hear of are usually cases of not having enough money to give the animals proper care. It would be interesting to see how many people manage to do right by their animals under Ohio law. Naturally we only hear the bad side. Without hearing the pros and cons of Ohio law, I can’t really say what needs to change.

  2. Laura says:

    I *do* think there needs to be some sort of law that states that, in order to have exotic animals of a certain persuasion (not sure how to word that… maybe over a certain weight? I mean, a little squirrel monkey can’t physically kill a person, even if it’s crazy. But the most docile bengal tiger can kill you with a well directed swipe of a well-meaning paw), you must have a certain level of schooling/knowledge, pass a test and be certified. And maybe to get that certification, you have to show the ability to finance it’s care. I don’t know. Maybe that’s too intrusive. But exotic animals are not like dogs. With the exception of a few breeds, dogs can be handled by police or rescue professionals, and even some of the most aggressive ones can be rehabbed and adopted out. And almost anyone can adopt them.

    But lions, tigers and bears (no, I will NOT go there)…. they need special care. Special foods, special veterinary care. Even the docile animals involved here… giraffes… there aren’t many people who can adopt a giraffe. I might have the room here, but I wouldn’t know the first thing about it! So yeah, there should be some sort of litmus test that you must pass before being allowed to have a facility like that. AND the facility should have restrictions placed on it, as well – similar to those that a zoo must abide by… types of fencing, caging, that kind of thing. And maybe even a certain distance from “civilization”.

    This whole thing was sad, and it really ticked me off to hear many of the comments made by people about how it was handled. I am amazed (I shouldn’t be, but I am) at the number of people who think that shooting a large animal with a dart gun is as simple as they see on TV. Just point and shoot, and the minute the dart hits, the animal is down. And it sleeps as long as you want it to, and it wakes all sweet and happy, and ready to thank you for the happy sleep.

    Um, no. I’ve seen animals get aggressive when they’re going under. And this is little house cats. I’ve seen them take an hour or more to succumb to the anesthetic. I’ve seen them wake, thrashing and howling, and it’s a good thing they were caged, or they would have seriously hurt themselves. Now imagine that happening with 40 or so lions, bears and tigers. In a neighborhood that they wandered into after being darted. Wow.

    I hate that they had to shoot them. But I understand why they did.

  3. SKL says:

    My concern about changing the laws as a reaction is that they need to consider whether there are any good things about the current law. Does it enable our big zoos to do some things better than they otherwise could? I’ve known people who keep a bunch of (smelly) tropical birds in their homes. Would they lose them despite caring for them properly? The nearby natural history museum has an outside display of various animals that are native to Ohio – kinda like a mini zoo. Would they have to close that? If all these folks do have to get rid of their critters, then what’s going to happen to them? Won’t they more than likely be euthanized? I don’t know the answers to any of these questions, but I just hope they are considered before some politician passes a law based more on fear than logic.

    • Joy says:

      You really don’t think I’m talking about someone having a bird in their house do you? Or a petting zoo? Which would be operated by guidelines if it were open to the public.

      I’m talking about someone having 50 or more wild lions, tigers, bears and other animals that will kill people. Many of them had been abused and many of them were very aggressive. Some of those tigers that were killed were on the endangered list and now they’re dead because the man who wanted them went nuts. Now the “them virus us” rule applies and all the animals are killed. Fear? Damn right I’m afraid. I live in the country. Most of us have 80 or more acres where this could be done. Do you think any of us could or should keep animals like this and if they get away, big deal? Where’s the logic to that?

      • SKL says:

        No, I’m just saying that sometimes they are not smart about amending laws. They may write it so broadly that it makes certain things worse. It’s also possible that the current laws could have prevented this but were simply not followed.

        So I’d rather they took the time to really analyze it and make sure the law is enough to ensure reasonable safety for people and animals, but does not go beyond a point. For example, if they required a license for every animal over X pounds, you’d want to make sure it didn’t criminalize you feeding the deer in your yard, or harboring a wounded critter until it was well enough to live in the wild again. You want it to be as narrow as possible while still accomplishing the goal.

        Every time a law is written in reaction to a public outcry, it seems, it goes too far. So you have people who can’t attend their kids’ school events because they got on a list for dating a 15-year-old when they were 17. So some politician probably got re-elected due to his “tough stance on crime,” but are things really better?

    • Laura says:

      I agree that there has been a spate of “feel good” laws coming down the pike lately. Most recently, the “Casey Anthony Law” or whatever it’s called, that says that a parent is a criminal if they do not report their child missing if they don’t have contact with them for xx hours. I can see all kinds of problems with that, starting with sleepovers… It does seem like our lawmakers prefer knee-jerk emotion over cool logic.

      However, I don’t think it’s unreasonable for a place like the museum near you to be subject to some regulations. Exotic animals need exotic care. A fox is not a canine, and may respond differently than a dog to certain medications. A bobcat is native to Ohio, but is certainly not a housecat. It also needs specialized handling. Are the docents and employees of that zoo prepared to handle these animals when they become sick (which sometimes leads to aggression)? Do they have failsafes in place in the event that a cage lock fails or the door is left unfastened? These are the types of things that must be considered, if a law is to be written.

      Your neighbor with the exotic birds probably wouldn’t fall within the parameters of this type of law. The animals are not large enough to be considered dangerous if they get loose.

      There are more people than you’d think who have “preserves” on their property. There’s a “zoo” out here, about ten miles (as the crow flies) from me. He’s got lions, bears, a whole menagerie. And he opens it to the public. I’ve never gone there because I don’t trust that he’s got the place secure.

      Gotta say, I’m pretty Libertarian, but this kind of law is necessary when you’ve got nutjobs that think a lion is the same as a kitten.

  4. Nikki says:

    In my opinion, when animals like this are being kept in a private home type facility, there are too many risks. As much as I respect people for wanting to take care of these types of animals, the risk isn’t worth what may happen. I do think there should be laws against this. At the end of the day, these are wild animals and can do a lot of harm to someone if they had the opportunity.

    They can’t tranquilize them, because it doesn’t affect them right away. They’ll just run away, and then they can’t be found. The outcome was bound to happen, and it is VERY sad.

  5. mssc54 says:

    Well since this is opinion time…

    I think law enforcement just dropped the ball on this. The Law should have had a plan in place for a worster bad situation. But they were either too lazy or incompetant.

    I also think there are some Law Dogs sitting around bragging about how they killed a bear, a lion and a tiger all in one day.

    You just wait, it won’t be long before we will see pictures on the internet of Law Dogs posing with their “trophy” kills.

    Now with that being said, this guy clearly lost his mind at the end. I mean how can you go from loving and caring for your animals to taking steps that you know will result in their death? That was the worster badder decision of all.

    • Laura says:

      I think you’re right about Law Enforcement dropping the ball. I think it’s ridiculous that they had been out there for visits before and nobody said a word. The size of this place, it should have been subject to the same kind of rules that cover zoos, regardless whether it’s some guy’s back yard, or the community zoo. I’m hearing internet chatter (so take it for what it’s worth) that this guy was ‘rescuing’ these animals, that he was broke, that he was despondent, that he had been brought on charges of abuse to the animals, and other things. If he had been reported for abuse, particularly, or for erratic behavior, there should have been some serious investigating going on.

      I also think you’re right that some of the ‘hunters’ considered this the Trophy Hunt of a Lifetime. But I’m not sure there was another solution. Once the animals were out of the cages, and the cage locks had been destroyed (rendering them unusable), their only option was the kill. The only upside might be that everyone shot to kill, so with luck, they shot with precision, and the “one bullet one kill” philosophy, and none of the animals suffered.

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