Dozens gathered inside a Statehouse hearing room Tuesday to discuss the impending exotic animal legislation.
Twenty-four changes were added to the proposal, known as Senate Bill 310, 10TV’s Chuck Strickler reported.
Those who oppose the proposed exotic animal legislation, also known as Senate Bill 310, outnumbered those who supported it in the room by five times, Strickler reported.
The proposed law would prohibit any new ownership of exotic animals, but would not completely ban them.
Current owners would be allowed to keep their animals as long as they meet requirements, which include micro chipping the animals and meeting strict cage standards, Strickler reported.
Facilities including zoos, circuses, research facilities and animal sanctuaries would be exempt from the law.
"None of us disagree that there needs to be regulation," opponent Joe Schreibvogel said. "But banning them is definitely not the answer and throwing them into unqualified sanctuaries."
Schreibvogel said that the law, as it stands, is unfair and unneeded. Many who support the law said that the regulations are common sense.
Ashley Kokas said that the ban would cripple her financially. Her grandfather was attacked by a kangaroo at the family’s Marion exotic animal farm last year.
“Accidents always happen, whether it’s a dog, a cat, a lion or a bear,” Kokas said. “As animal people, we know the risk we take every day when we get up in the morning to feed our animals.”
Deborah-Ann Milette, who owns a number of exotic cats, said that the proposal would force her to give up eight of her restricted cats. One of the new amendments would exempt Savannah cats from the bill, Strickler reported.
“I don’t think small cats should be on there, because they’re not dangerous,” Milette said.
Bill supporter Tim Harrison said that safety was the key issue.
“People don’t understand, if you bring a tiger into your house, it’s like setting a time bomb. You don’t know when it’s going to go off,” Harrison said.
Deirdre Herbert said that a bear attacked her 24-year-old son, mauling him to death two years ago. She said that she thought danger would increase without a law banning exotic animals.
“I’m here for my son and any other victims who didn’t come forward, because they were afraid or didn’t have courage to,” Herbert said.
Additional amendments to the proposed legislation are due by Friday, Strickler reported.
More testimony is expected to be heard next Tuesday.
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March 12, 2012: Jack Hanna 'Frustrated' With Exotic Animal Legislation Process
February 6, 2012: State Lawmaker To Introduce New Exotic Animal Legislation