West Virginia is one of just five states that have no restrictions on ownership of exotic animals – tigers, bears, cobras and the like.
That could be setting us up for a repeat of what happened near Zanesville, Ohio, about two years ago.
There, as many people remember, the owner of an exotic animal “preserve” for some unknown reason set 56 creatures free before shooting himself in the head. Lions, tigers, bears, leopards and wolves were among the animals let out of their cages, and free to roam around the countryside.
His action caused a near panic with the neighbors living around his property and within hours, 48 of the animals were killed. Law enforcement officials had no choice but to shoot them, to protect the public.
Since then, Ohio has enacted what appears to be an excellent set of limits on ownership of exotic animals.
West Virginia’s lawmakers are being urged to follow suit. They should, during the legislative session early next year. This is common-sense legislation and long overdue as a state law.
Failure to do so would be asking for trouble for both exotic animals and the public.