Central Ohio Man Surrenders Alligator Over New Exotic Pet Law
Supporters of the state's exotic animal law say it's a way to keep the public safe by requiring owners of wild animals to register them with the state and carry insurance.
For Michael Weier of Grove City, he says the law makes it almost impossible for people like him to ever own an exotic animal.
“He knows something is going on", says Weier as he straddles his pet alligator he named “Arnold.”
Arnold is a 200 pound American alligator who is a sucker for a gentle head rub.
And for the first time in 13 years, Michael and Cindy Weier are having to say goodbye to the family pet.
“For me it's a loss because I've had him for 13 years. I don't have any kids, this is my kid,” says Weier.
This is Arnold's last day at home.
Weier says he's surrendering his animal to the state because he says Ohio's exotic animal law is too expensive to own an animal law like Arnold, and he believes it's punishing responsible animal owners.
“You punish the people that do the wrong, you don't punish everybody", he says.
Weier says to keep Arnold, the insurance would cost him $3,000, something he says he can't afford.
Weier says this isn't all about money.
“They take away my rights as a responsible pet owner, I've never done anything wrong, I've never done anything wrong with him", he says.
But the state says the law is about protecting public safety.
Lawmakers worked to strengthen the law after a suicidal Zanesville man released dozens of wild animals like bears and tigers from his farm in 2011 authorities had to kill.
As for Arnold, he was safely taken from his heated trailer and slid into a plastic holding pipe.
Then carried by 4 deputies to a waiting horse trailer, where he will be taken to the state's holding facility to await a new home, far away from the home he's only known.
“It's sad, it's sad," says Weier.
The state says it's hoping to place Arnold in an alligator sanctuary in South Carolina.