Ohio Exotic Animal Law

Matthew Paul

Just over a week ago, Ohio’s new exotic animal law went into effect.  The crux of the law bans Ohio citizens from the buying, the selling, and the transfer of ownership of all exotic animals.  The urgency of the new law was catalyzed by last year’s release of over 50 exotic animals many of which were extremely dangerous; the bill is directed specifically on curbing the ownership of aggressive animals including lions and tigers.  The new law – Senate Bill 310 – also prevents the deliberate release of exotic animals, the abstraction of microchips, and the amputation of both their teeth and claws.  While people who currently own exotic animals will be grandfathered in to the new law – and allowed to keep their animals – owners must registered any and all animals within the first two months of the bills adoption.  Current owners must also put up signs on their land to inform the community of the potential danger. Continue reading

Captive Animals, Dead People, Bad Reporting

David Cassuto

How many times have we heard the story of a captive wild animal killing someone?  This would be just another replay of the same sad and avoidable story except for a few details.  In this instance, which took place outside Cleveland, the guy who kept the unfortunate bear was not the person killed.  The victim, Brent Kandra, is a guy the WaPo refers to as the bear’s “caretaker” — someone who frequently helped the owner, Sam Mazzola, with his animals.  What animals?  A whole lot of animals — lions, tigers, bears, wolves, coyotes.  Mazzola, who had been convicted of illegally selling and transporting animals and who was also cited for illegally staging wrestling matches between bears and people, recently filed for bankruptcy.             Continue reading

Some Further Thoughts on Ohio

David Cassuto

I’m back in the northern hemisphere, missing the tropical juices and proximity to the beach but enjoying my family (human and non), my friends, and my deck with its accompanying martinis.  I’ve also been pondering the Ohio deal I blogged about before getting on the plane last week.  As you may recall, the ballot initiative in Ohio containing important agricultural reforms has been indefinitely postponed in exchange for a number of concessions.    Continue reading

A Deal in Ohio — But at What Price?

David Cassuto
In Ohio, HSUS, the ag industry and the state government have made a deal.  In exchange for HSUS not supporting a fall ballot initiative on animal welfare issues, the Ohio government and animal industry will take action on exotic animal importation, veal calf housing (they will “transition to group housing”), other livestock issues, and the puppy mill industry.       Continue reading

Ohio Issue 2 Aftermath

David Cassuto

Reports of the death of animal advocacy in Ohio in the wake of last fall’s passage of Issue 2 have been greatly exaggerated.  Ohioans for Humane Farms has begun the process of getting an initiative on the ballot that would:

1. Require the Ohio Livestock Care Standards Board to establish minimum humane standards for certain farm animals within six years after adoption of the amendment. The minimum standards would:

  • Prohibit a farm owner or operator from tethering or confining any calf raised for veal, pig during pregnancy, or egglaying hen, on a farm, for all or the majority of a day, in a manner that prevents such animal from lying down, standing up, fully extending his or her limbs, or turning around freely. This prohibition would not apply during certain times set forth in the amendment, including, but not limited to, during veterinary treatment, certain livestock exhibitions, and scientific or agricultural research. Continue reading

Ohio’s Issue 2: Good for Animals?

Laura Schierhoff

On November 2nd, Ohio voters passed Issue 2, a constitutional amendment, which creates a ‘Livestock Care Standards Board’ to set standards for livestock and poultry care, food safety, disease prevention, farm management, and animal well-being.  The Board will comprise of 13 Ohioans appointed by the governor and the legislature with minimal oversight.  The Board will have the authority to establish the standards governing the care and well-being of livestock and poultry in Ohio.  As stated in my previous post on Issue 2, this ballot initiative was in response to the Humane Society of the United States’ (HSUS) having picked Ohio for the next State to target for agriculture legislation banning confinement treatment of farm animals.

The battle may have been won for Ohio, but the war is still on as far as HSUS is concerned.  With little money invested into defeating Issue 2 (Ohio farmers and agribusiness lobbies spent over $4 million), HSUS is gearing up for future legislation in Ohio and other states.  While Ohio lawmakers refused to work with HSUS on humane farming legislation, Michigan recently agreed on legislation on improved livestock-standards, requiring that egg-laying hens, breeding pigs and veal calves must be able to stand up, lied down, turn around and extend their limbs.  The lawmakers, agribusiness interests, and HSUS came together to jointly agree on livestock-care legislation.  Wayne Pacelle, the president and CEO of HSUS said that “the solution forged in Michigan shows that open-minded and fair discussions among stakeholders can lead to good outcomes for farmers and for animal welfare.”  Jim Byrum, president of the Michigan Agri-Business Association, said his group and others decided to work with the animal-rights groups rather than against them.  He said the decision was based on “a healthy dose of pragmatism.  In terms of public policy, it made sense to sit down with them.”  Michigan is the seventh state to act on livestock standards, including Arizona, California, Florida, Maine, Colorado, and Oregon.

Ohio farmers claim that the health and well-being of animals is at the forefront of this amendment and argue that unhealthy animals do not produce the healthy products.  This of course is false, and there is much evidence supporting the fact that very very unhealthy animals are indeed the types of animals that we find in our food.  The animals raised for human consumption are genetically designed for productivity, fed unnatural diets, and pumped full growth hormones and antibiotics, which can hardly be argued as a “healthy” way of raising them.  One of the biggest problems I have with letting farming interests decide on animal cruelty is that they certainly do not have the physical and mental well-being of animals at heart – ultimately they are a business and want to maximize profits.

While reading blogs and articles about Issue 2, I came across a farmer who phrased my opinion of this whole situation perfectly:  “We are stewards and caretakers of these animals and we have a moral obligation to treat them humanely.”  With the passage of Issue 2, I sincerely hope that conditions for farm animals improve in Ohio, as promised, but I really doubt that will be the outcome.

Ohio Humane Societies Come Out Against Issue 2

David Cassuto

This just in: Ohio’s largest Humane Societies have come out against Issue 2.  You can (and should) read the full skinny at Cleveland.com but here are some choice excerpts:

As Nov. 3 approaches and the debate over Issue 2 escalates, Ohio’s two largest humane societies and smaller ones, including Geauga Humane in rural Geauga County, today announced their opposition to the proposed constitutional amendment.

They join the state farmers’ union, organic food proponents and environmental groups opposing the plan to create a livestock board that would determine how billions of cows, chickens, pigs, sheep and goats are treated here.

The Cleveland Animal Protective League, Geauga Humane and Capital Area Humane serving Greater Columbus say Issue 2 would not be good for farm animals, as the 13-member appointed board would include just one humane officer.

Continue reading

Ohio’s Issue 2

Laura Schierhoff

In February, the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) met with members of Ohio’s livestock industry to discuss passing humane legislation in that state.  HSUS had its eye on Ohio to pass legislation to ban the use of poultry cages, veal crates and gestation stalls.  Agribusiness in Ohio knew this was not such a far fetched idea, given California’s Proposition 2 landslide ballot-initiative win last November.  Proposition 2 banned the confinement of farm animals in a manner that does not allow them to turn around freely, lie down, stand up, and fully extend their limbs.  (Arizona and Florida have also passed similar measures.)  The meeting was said to be “extremely cordial” according to a member of the Ohio Farm Bureau.  However, with the fear of something like Proposition 2 going on the ballot in November, big agriculture in Ohio was scared.

Continue reading

HBO to Air Factory Farm Expose

On March 16, HBO will air the documentary Death on a Factory Farm — a compilation of footage taken in 2006 by an undercover investigator at an Ohio pig factory farm. 

I don’t know what is more shocking: the cruelty captured in the footage, or Time Magazine’s story on the documentary, featuring an interview with the undercover investigator responsible.

In addition to footage from inside the farm, the documentary features the resulting 2006 criminal trial in which the farm’s owner, its manager, and one employee were charged with various forms of animal abuse. Only the manager was convicted, and only on one charge.

The story received widespread media coverage, including coverage of the trial, partly because the farm routinely employs hanging as a euthanasia method for fully conscious sows. While on the stand, the farm’s owner, Ken Wiles, defended this practice, and his expert witness stated that national pork industry standards are only guidelines, leaving pig farmers free to employ euthanasia methods not expressly recommended.  He acknowledged, however, that “hanging may not be fully appropriate.”

Am I the only one failing to grasp the reasonableness of this “reasoning”? Hopefully once Death on a Factory Farm airs, many more Americans will question what in the world is going on in our factory farms.

-Suzanne McMillan