We all heard about the horrific chain of events leading up to the eventual and unfortunate necessity of killing of so many wild animals kept as pets in Zanesville, Ohio. This was an unspeakable tragedy for the animals, those involved with finding them, and for the community, not to mention the people who owned them. No one won in this situation. This event has incited and renewed public awareness to the issue of private ownership of wild animals. AVMA has a policy (Private Ownership of Wild Animals) advocating for limited or prohibited private ownership of these wild animals > those animals:
- That pose a significant risk to people, and to other domestic animals, or
- Whose own animal welfare is significantly compromised.
AVMA took two actions:
- We sent letters to the Governors of seven states (AL, ID, NV, NC, SC, WV, WI) with more lenient legislation on the private ownership of wild animals and urged them to consider stronger restrictions.
- I participated in a live radio panel discussion on the aftermath of this incident. Sheriff Lutz gave an account of that horrible night, and four of us then analyzed how we can hopefully avoid such a tragedy again in the future. Participants included representatives from the AVMA, the American Association of Zoo Veterinarians, the Society for Veterinary Medical Ethics, and the ASPCA. It was hosted and moderated by Dr. Don DeForge, a practicing veterinarian in Connecticut and the host for two regular radio programs.
We are all hoping our discussion will lead to renewed efforts to improve the safety and welfare of these animals with the strengthening of legislation to safeguard the animals’ health and protection of communities. You can contribute by contacting your state VMAs to inquire about the current legislation in your state.