Ohio Animal Massacre Rant

I’ve been too upset to even begin to talk about this story, and I’m not sure I can control my emotions even several days after the fact. But here we go.

There is absolutely no way on earth anyone will convince me that THIS was necessary:

There’s so much wrong with this story. Let’s start with the news media, which repeatedly reported that the animals “escaped.” No, they didn’t. They were let loose from their enclosures by a mentally disturbed person who’d just gotten out of federal prison on — of course — illegal firearms charges. Most of them never even left the Zanesville Ohio property where they’d lived (and apparently been abused) for years.

And let’s get our terminology straight. This was not a zoo. It was an animal farm. Yeah, there’s a difference.

Let’s also stop pretending that these animals were a threat to anyone:

Most of the big cats and bears were declawed and had been bottle-fed by Thompson and his wife since the animals were babies, said Judy Hatfield, a family friend who visited the farm many times and said it wasn’t unusual to have a monkey jump on your lap.

I’m trying to understand how these animals could be a threat when most of them hadn’t even left the property:

At least 49 had been killed by Wednesday afternoon, most of them within 500 yards of their pens, including 17 lions and at least one animal described as a big cat that was hit by a car as it tried to cross a street. It was later euthanized by the authorities.

So let’s get this straight: we have a bunch of declawed animals wandering outside their pens who have lived in captivity all of their lives. And Jack Hanna says the slaughter was absolutely necessary? Really? You know what, Jack Hanna? STFU you senile old crank. You were really cute with that baby wombat on the Carson show 30 years ago but let’s just leave it there.

Here’s a little-known fact: back in the ’70s Hanna had a petting zoo in Knoxville, TN, where a 3-year-old boy got mauled by a lion. That’s a tragedy, and it’s understandable that Hanna errs on the side of caution as a result. In his official capacity as a media personality (he is not a zoologist, he holds no PhD or advanced degrees), Hanna also spent a lifetime trying to undo the damage done by Walt Disney, whom we have to thank for all sorts of stupid human/wild animal interactions every year. Hanna is right, wild animals are not cute, they’re not pets or toys or funny photo ops. They’re dangerous. I get that.

But you will never convince me that most of those animals in Ohio needed to be destroyed. Declawed tigers wandering outside their pens? Nope. Not buying it.

You know what I think we have here? A bunch of trigger-happy redneck yahoos thrilled at the chance to go big game hunting without having to leave Muskingum County. Yeehaw.

Here’s a news story that really pisses me off:

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Ohio’s governor promised Friday to step up enforcement of the state’s existing animal laws and pursue new ones to limit private ownership of dangerous animals.

Oh, NOW you’re going all in with the enforcement thing. Thanks a lot, asshole. A little too late for 1% of the world’s Bengal tiger population, though.

I hope Ohio does toughen its exotic animal laws — and so should Missouri, Nevada, North Carolina, and Oklahoma. Apparently there are only five states in the U.S. which don’t regulate the private ownership of exotic animals. We’re all having this teachable moment here and maybe some laws will be toughened and other ones will be enforced. This is how most regulatory laws are born, after all — out of tragedy.

But you know what? Bet you anything in 10-15 years some Teanut asshole will come out complaining about “government overreach” and “the long arm of fascism” because he or she can’t keep a pet tiger. Just you wait.


Filed under animal cruelty, rants

14 responses to “Ohio Animal Massacre Rant

  1. Thanks for ranting so I don’t have to! Tweeted this out to my peeps.

  2. i haven’t been understanding why they could shoot them to kill them but not shoot them to tranquilize them. I’ve been stunned by how many animals were lost and by how many endangered animals he had there. I would think federal regulations for ownership of endangered animals would be a good thing.

  3. Cckids

    Yes, now the R-Gov puts out the executive order. Most news stories are ignoring the fact that the last governor (dem, btw), HAD an executive order banning this type of ownership of exotics. Kasich (sp?) let it lapse, probably because it was such an offense against individual rights or some such crap. Always closing the door after they’ve shot the horse.

    • deep cap

      But I don’t get it, how long did this animal farm exist? Even if the last governor had a ban on this sort of thing, how come nobody was enforcing the law??

      (Oh right, I forget, state police do two things: drugs and the war on drugs. No time for illegal animal farms.)

  4. While I have no doubt that the locals would have been all for goin’ Rambo on the wildlife, I don’t know how that whole thing shook out. While the animals may have been “farmed” and the tigers or whatever, declawed, they still had their teeth and they are carnivores. I don’t know that they could have been tranquilized effectively under the circumstances and there was no way to know where or how far they might roam–tigers in nature like to have enormous territories. Also., finding homes for the animals would not have been easy or economical.

    Having said the previous, if the authorities had been on top of this situation it need not have happened.

    • Min

      I was thinking along the same lines. A tiger is incredibly dangerous, even without claws, and it is possible that local law enforcement simply didn’t have the kind of animal tranquilizers and guns needed to handle this situation in a non-lethal manner.

  5. My understanding is that law enforcement folks had been called out to the farm many times in the past: animals “wandering” the property outside of their enclosures, animal abuse/neglect charges, etc. This place was notorious in the county, it’s not like this incident sprang out of nowhere. And the owner had served 6 mos. in federal prison on gun charges — apparently wild animals weren’t the only dangerous things he collected.

    So knowing that there was this problem facility, I don’t understand a) why it was allowed to continue to operate, why Fish & Wildlife or whatever federal authorities couldn’t come in and close the place down and make sure the animals were taken care of responsibly and humanely. And b) why county sheriff’s officials weren’t at least somewhat prepared with the appropriate tranquilizer guns or whatever else it is they needed. If your county has a big chemical plant, local law enforcement is prepared with gas masks and hazmat gear. If your county has a notoriously problematic exotic animal farm, you’re prepared for that.

    • I am sick about this as well, but, as a resident of the state where this happened, I am much, much, much more inclined to blame our arrogant, mean-spirited, useless Governor and our (Republican controlled) legislature for what happened than I am to blame the sheriff’s deputies who responded. If I were facing down a tiger or a bear with nothing more than a handgun, I would very probably shoot first and ask questions later. (Actually, I would probably wet my pants, shoot blindly, and no doubt get mauled to death, but I am not a trained law enforcement officer.) Why didn’t they use tranquilizer darts? I can’t imagine that they HAD tranquilizer darts.

      The whole thing is a tragedy, and I think the question we should be asking is, “why the hell a felon was allowed to keep tigers in his yard in the first place?” and not, “should sheriff’s deputies in a state with extremely few predator animals be customarily armed with tranquilizer darts?”

  6. SoBe,
    Thank you for posting about this outrage (I was too upset to even face it). There are several “big cat farms” not far from where I live that keep tigers, lions, ligers (lion-tiger hybrids), and cougars. These are run by so-called do-gooders who want to preserve or breed them. I don’t know if these are licensed or supervised, or whether these are another accident waiting to happen. An elephant sanctuary has recently been approved (under stealth of darkness – no public disclosure or opportunity for citizen feedback). The allocation of land is too small and inadequate to accommodate the elephants, and animal rights groups have been up in arms (including your Octopus). In Florida, we have a terrible problem with invasive species; as you may have heard, pythons are overrunning the Everglades (and the GOP in Washington thinks regulations controlling the importation and sale of “vagrant” species are job killers). Another invasive scourge in Florida are radical Republicans overrunning the State Legislature. So far, efforts to eradicate or control them have been unsuccessful.

    • Octopus:

      Offing the bastards would be inhumane, OTOH, spaying and neutering of anybody dumb enough to vote for Romney, Bachman, Palin & Co. would be a positive development.

  7. But, but, but Demo. Even if we spay and neuter them, they can still vote. What we need to do is smear them with vanishing cream and tell them to get a photo ID.

  8. Those poor poor animals! Speaking of animals in strange places, my neighbor had their gutters replaced this summer and found a parrot living in one of them! Some of the places animals escape to and hide when they are released are crazy! You gotta see it here http://www.gutterhelmet.com/blog/8-crazy-photos-of-animals-living-in-gutters/