Buwalda was the chairman of the Canadian Exotic Animal Owner's Association. In 2006, he was able to successfully fight a rule in his township that banned his ownership of such animals. He was able to have his two tigers, two lions and a cougar grandfathered into the law. The only reason the township made such a rule is because one of Buwalda's animals attacked a 10-year-old boy who Buwalda let on the property to take pictures.
Nicole Balogh, a neighbor with two small children, was one of many people who had fought to remove the animals.
"We were always concerned that he was just not diligent as to the dangers or being responsible for animals of that kind," she told The Canadian Press. "You just don't take children in and flash pictures at animals."
Barry Kent MacKay, the Canadian representative of Born Free USA, an animal rights group, said his organization has been warning communities for years to toughen laws.
"We warned these communities to pass these bylaws, because people can have a plethora of animals," MacKay said. "Private owners don't see the danger, they think everything is fine."
Ontario is the only Canadian province where exotic animals don't need to be licensed.
Here in the United States, laws differ from state to state. But according to the Humane Society's website:
States generally prohibit or regulate the private ownership of wild animals native to that state. In recent years, states have been enacting laws to protect nonnative species as well.
Typically, state laws list which animals are prohibited, but if the list is not comprehensive, it can create loopholes for other animals to become the next exotic pet du jour... Some localities have improved on state laws by listing the animals allowed as pets, clarifying that any other species are prohibited.