Animal Rights

Could Ohio Animal Tragedy Happen in Michigan, Other States?

| by Mark Berman Opposing Views

Animal activists are still reeling over last week's tragedy in Ohio in which the owner of dozens of exotic animals released them all and then killed himself. Police were forced to shoot and kill 46 of them, capturing just a handful. Now there is concern it could happen in other states.

The Detroit Free-Press pointed out on Sunday that in Michigan, while 423 people and businesses have licenses to own deer, just a few are allowed to own tigers, bears and other wild animals similar to those in Ohio.

"In Ohio, you can keep just about anything you like in your backyard. It's nuts," said Dennis Fijalkowski, executive director of the Michigan Wildlife Conservancy. "We have very good regulations here."

He added, "This is proof that not having strict regulations is bad for people and bad for the animals. We call these animals 'wild' for a reason. Anything called wildlife should be viewed from a distance. Treating them like domestic animals to make money off them is a recipe for disaster."

State officials do admit, however, that strong regulations could not prevent someone from doing what the Ohio animal owner did.

"What happened in Ohio is a tragedy, but that was an unregulated place that had lost its license," said state veterinarian Dr. Steven Halstead."No regulations could have stopped him from doing that."