Ohio has some of the strictest wild animal laws in the United States, in part because of a tragic incident in 2011, which resulted in the death of dozens of wild animals in Zanesville, Ohio. The owner of an exotic zoo in Zanesville released the animals before committing suicide.

The incident prompted legislators to take quick action to regulate the ownership of exotic pets and wild animals throughout Ohio, including tigers. This means that it is completely illegal for a civilian to own a pet tiger in Ohio.

Ownership of Tigers in Ohio Severely Restricted

Tiger ownership is restricted to certain organizations in Ohio. Under the Ohio Dangerous Wild Animal Act, individuals are generally prohibited from owning, selling, trading, offering to sell, or otherwise possess a dangerous wild animal. Furthermore, the law prohibits individuals from knowingly releasing a dangerous wild animal into the wild or allowing a wild animal to roam off the property to which the animal is confined.

The statute defines what types of animals are considered dangerous wild animals. Tigers are on the list. Other animals included on the dangerous wild animal list are:

  • Lions
  • Bears
  • Hyenas
  • Komodo dragons
  • Gray wolves
  • Many species of snakes
  • Crocodiles and alligators
  • Many types of primates

Therefore, the only way to own a tiger legally in Ohio is to be one of the exempted organizations or individuals or to have owned the tiger before the law took effect. If you owned a tiger before the dangerous wild animal law took effect, you must have registered the tiger and have a permit to own the tiger. You must also continue to comply with all laws for maintaining and owning a tiger in Ohio.

Tigers Do Not Make Good Pets

If you owned a tiger before the law governing ownership of dangerous wild animals took effect, it is dangerous to have a wild animal as a pet. Tigers are not domesticated pets. They pose a serious threat to other animals and humans.

Tigers are powerful predators. They can weigh up to 450 pounds and stand over three feet tall. Their claws can be as long as house keys.

The average life span of a tiger in the wild is eight to ten years, but they can live longer in captivity. They eat pounds of meat at a time and can bring down a much larger animal.

Responsibility for Injuries Caused by Tigers and Other Wild Animals

If a tiger or other wild animal causes an injury to a person or another animal, the owner of the animal may be held liable for damages and losses related to the attack. Wild animals can cause severe injuries, life-threatening infections, and death. A scratch or a minor bite from a tiger or other wild animal could result in an infection that causes permanent disabilities or life-threatening conditions.

Owners may be held liable for damages, including but not limited to:

  • Cost of medical care
  • Loss of income
  • Scarring and disfigurement
  • Pain and suffering

Depending on the circumstances, an owner could be charged with one or more crimes, in addition to being liable for damages in a civil case. The state may seize animals that violate the dangerous animal laws. Prosecutors could look at one or more criminal charges if the animals harmed someone before the state seized the animal.

Are You Searching for an Exotic Animal as a Pet?

Before you purchase an exotic or wild animal as a pet, it is best to check with the Ohio Department of Agriculture to ensure you comply with all laws related to dangerous wild animals. Call the Department of Agriculture at (614)728-6220 for more information. Even if it is legal to own an exotic animal in Ohio, you may need to obtain a license or permit and comply with strict housing and safety regulations.

Learning about your legal rights and the laws governing a certain activity before acting is always a good idea. It can help you avoid criminal charges, which could result in jail time, fines, probation, and other penalties.

Criminal defense attorneys know the criminal justice system and criminal statutes. They use their knowledge and experience to educate clients on their legal rights. An attorney can help you develop a defense strategy that gives you the best chance of a positive outcome in your case.

If you are arrested or the subject of a criminal investigation, the best step you can take to protect your legal rights and your freedom is to contact a criminal lawyer as soon as possible. We can help you ensure that you get the most favorable outcome possible if you are facing criminal charges for owning an exotic pet in Ohio.

To learn more, call our Dayton criminal defense law firm at (937) 531-0435 or visit our contact us page to send us an email.