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56 exotic animals escaped from farm near Zanesville; 49 killed by authorities; owner found dead

Animal farm owner released the animals, then killed himself… All he had to do was call the authorities and they would have come to get these animals and taken them to the Columbus Zoo

ZANESVILLE, Ohio —Authorities say that in all, 56 exotic animals escaped from a farm in Muskingum County last night, and one could still be missing this afternoon.

Of those animals, 49 were killed. Six animals — a grizzly bear, three leopards and two monkeys — were captured alive and taken to the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium, and a monkey and a grey wolf were at large. The animals that were killed included 18 tigers, nine male lions, eight female lions, six black bears, three mountain lions, two grizzly bears, one baboon and two wolves, Sheriff Matt Lutz said. The escaped monkey poses a danger because it is infected with herpes, the sheriff said.

The sheriff said it is possible that the missing monkey was eaten by a large cat.

The owner of the farm, Terry Thompson, was found dead last night on his property. Authorities say Thompson opened the cage doors and cut the wires on the cages, then killed himself. He died from a gunshot wound. Lutz said Thompson’s body was "bothered" by the animals.

Lutz had previously said a grizzly bear, a wolf and a mountain lion were missing. Today, authorities confirmed they killed the bear on the property last night. The wolf was later found dead; it had been shot last night. An officer wounded the mountain lion, which staggered into a neighbor’s property and died.

Thompson’s wife has returned to the farm and is talking to authorities. Jack Hanna, director emeritus of the Columbus Zoo, said the wife begged authorities not to take her "babies," but he convinced her to let the animals go and work it out later.

"I held her, I felt her shock. Her animals are gone. Her family is gone. Everything in her life is gone," Hanna said.

The animals that were killed by authorities likely will be buried on Thompson’s property.

Lutz defended the shooting of the escaped animals. He said when deputies arrived at the house, there were large animals trying to escape. The deputies had to shoot them with their sidearms.

"Public safety was my No. 1 concern," Lutz said. "I gave the order that if the animals looked like they were going to get out, they were going down."
Hanna called this morning for the state to enact regulations to crack down on the possession, breeding and selling of exotic animals.
"I went to school at Muskingum (College)," he said. "It’s like Noah’s ark wrecked."

Hanna said he has talked to the governor’s office about enacting stricter exotic animal laws.

"We need to set an example in the state of Ohio," he said. "There was a loss of life here, and we thank God it was not human life. It was animal life, and that’s my life."

Hanna also defended the deputies shooting the animals.

The deputies were assisted by the State Highway Patrol, authorities from the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium and the Wilds, the state Division of Wildlife, the county Emergency Management Agency and township fire departments.

A plan to bring in a patrol helicopter with a thermal-imaging camera to find animals last night was scuttled last night by stormy weather.

Zanesville, West Muskingum and Maysville school districts, as well as Muskingum County Starlight School, all canceled classes for Wednesday to keep children inside. Lutz also recommends that residents remain inside today and call 911 if any wild animal is seen.Lutz said the incident began about 5:30 p.m., when the sheriff’s office began receiving calls that wild animals were running loose in the area of Kopchak Road, which is in Falls Township and just west of Zanesville.

Lutz said that four deputies with assault rifles in a pickup truck immediately went to 270 Kopchak Rd., where a 46-acre “wild-animal-rescue farm” owned by Thompson borders I-70.

There, Lutz said, they found Thompson dead outside his house and “every single animal-cage door open.”Lutz said the deputies saw a number of animals standing outside their cages, still on the property, while others had escaped a fence that surrounds Thompson’s property. Deputies immediately began shooting animals, he said.

Lutz said the fence on Thompson’s property isn’t designed to keep in wild animals.

Lutz said a man who is a caretaker on the animal preserve told deputies that 48 animals lived in cages outside the house on the property. More animals — mostly monkeys, baboons and apes — lived inside Thompson’s house, the man said.

Those inside the house were still in the cages, Lutz said.

Late last night, there was a report of a wolf and a bear still roaming at least 4 miles from the farm property. One animal was struck by a car and later killed.

The Licking County Sheriff’s Office also received at least four phone calls from residents reporting exotic-animal sightings. SWAT officers with night-vision equipment were searching for animals in Licking County early this morning.

Lutz said Muskingum County deputies had fatally shot and killed at least 25 animals when they first drove to the property. A wolf and bear also reportedly were killed along I-70.

Video:  Muskingum Alumni Jack Hanna Hunt Exotic Animals on the Loose in Zanesville, Ohio 10.19.11

He said that officials from the Columbus Zoo and The Wilds came in shortly after the discovery with tranquilizer guns, hoping to capture some animals alive.

Thompson, 62, was released from federal prison just three weeks ago, after serving a one-year term.

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives had raided Thompson’s Kopchak Road property in June 2008, seizing more than 100 guns. In April 2010, Thompson pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court in Columbus to two federal charges: possession of a machine gun and possession of short firearms without serial numbers.

Under terms of his release, Thompson was confined to his home for a year.

Thompson also was convicted in Muskingum County Municipal Court in 2005 of cruelty to animals, having an animal at large and two counts of rendering animal waste without a license. The charges stemmed from allegations that three cows and a bison had died on another property he owned, on Boggs Road in Perry Township, east of Zanesville.

Neighbors there had lodged numerous complaints about him letting his animals wander. Thompson was put on house arrest for six months and paid a $2,870 fine in that case. He also was ordered to move his animals to his Kopchak Road land.

Ohio has no rules regulating the sale and ownership of exotic animals.

Former Gov. Ted Strickland had attempted to enforce such a law, but Gov. John Kasich allowed an executive order to expire.

“There really needs to be some legislation changed on how these things are going on in the state of Ohio,” Lutz said.

Kate Riley, 20, who lives in western Muskingum County, said that Thompson has had lions, tigers and a bear get loose in the past.

Riley’s family owns a feed cattle farm nearby and said that Thompson would come and take their dead cows to feed his lions.

“He’d have claw marks all over him,” she said.

Riley said she understands that Thompson’s wife, Marian, recently left her husband and moved out.

Patti Peters, a spokeswoman for the Columbus Zoo, said staff members were at a dinner last night for the International Rhino Foundation when they heard about the incident. Five staff members from the zoo and the Wilds immediately went to help, she said.

Larry Hostetler, executive director of the Animal Shelter Society of Muskingum County, said the sheriff’s office and state officials had visited the Kopchak Road property in 2008 on a complaint that animals weren’t being taken care of there. The inspection, however, found acceptable treatment, Hostetler said.

Adelbert G. Kempf Jr, a retired veterinarian in Heath, said he inspected Thompson’s horses that day. He said that Thompson told him that he was running a rescue operation for horses.

“ He was far from that,” Hostetler said. “He was more of an animal collector.”

At one point, Thompson took three lion cubs to New York City for a photo shoot with model Heidi Klum. On another occasion, he brought animals to a 2007 community pet fair in Muskingum County. Thompson and his wife brought bear cubs, lions cubs and a baby ape, Hostetler said.

He said the wild animals disrupted the fair because they weren’t friendly.

“We had to change the advertisement in following years to say bring your domestic pets,” Hostetler said. “He was a piece of work.”

By  Josh Jarman Quan Truong Jim Woods and  Brenda Jackson Dispatch staff reporter Kathy Lynn Gray also contributed to this story.  jjarman@dispatch.com, jwoods@dispatch.com, jackson@dispatch.com

h/t to the Columbus Dispatch

October 21, 2011 Posted by | animal behavior, Animal or Pet Related Stories, animals, If Animlas Could Talk..., Just One More Pet, Unusual Stories, Wild Animals | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Rhode Island’s New Reptile Laws Take Effect

Providence, Rhode Island (April 7th, 2010)

Wide-ranging new laws governing the importation and possession of exotic animals will take effect on April 15th 2010.

Rhode Island's New Reptile Laws Take Effect

The new laws define all animals as one of three categories: Domestic Animals, Exempt Exotic Animals and Exotic Animals. Only animals classified as Exotic Animals, which includes any animal not on either of the other lists, will require a permit. Under the new laws, a Domestic Animal is any animal that has been bred to a degree that makes it distinguishable from wild individuals of their species.

An Exotic Animal is defined as “any vertebrate or invertebrate other than those defined as domestic animals, native wildlife, or exempt exotic animals under this regulation”. Any animals imported or possessed that does not fall under the Domestic Animal or Exempt Exotic Animals lists and does not have a permit can be confiscated. Permits will be considered on a case-by-case basis and will require that the animal is in a position where it can not escape.

Any amphibian that is “kept, housed or maintained” outdoors will require a permit. Indoor amphibians will no longer require a permit, as in an earlier draft, but all retail amphibian vendors must provide written notification to purchasers of the permit requirement and keep a sales log that includes the name and address of the buyer, and details of the species purchased. All species of turtles can be kept without a permit except endangered species, the red-eared slider turtle, the Argentina or Chaco tortoise; gopher tortoise and pancake tortoises.

All venomous snakes require a permit, except for boa and python species other than the emerald tree boa, green tree python, African rock python, reticulated python and all species of anaconda. Permits are also not required for some species of snake in the families Uropeltidae, Xenopeltidae, Typhlopidae, Leptotyphlopidae, Anomalepidae and Colubridae. Most species of lizard require that the owner has a permit, except for some species of skink, girdle-tailed lizards, geckos, iguanis lizards, agamid lizards and night lizards.

This news story is independently sourced and PetPeoplesPlace.com

Posted:  Just One More Pet

April 8, 2010 Posted by | animals, Fostering and Rescue, Just One More Pet, Pet Adoption, responsible pet ownership, Toughen Animal Abuse Laws and Sentences | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Why We Foster…

adopted-ar-2Soleil – Recently, my wife and I drove out of state for a brief gathering of extended family. Our plan was to leave home Friday morning and to be back by Saturday afternoon. Our latest shelter rescue ‘foster dog’, Soleil, stayed at our house and two of our neighbors, who love Soleil and have helped us before, were looking after her.

We took our own dog, Abby, who was a shelter rescue a little over one year ago, to a nearby kennel where she has stayed before, both overnight and a couple of times for daycare while we were having the roof of our home replaced. Abby has come a long way in the past year, but she is still, and may always be, a very fearful dog. Obedience and desensitization training have done wonders, but the best thing that we have been able to do for Abby, and probably for ourselves also, is to welcome foster dogs into our home. In a short time, the fosters have really helped Abby to come out of her shell and we think that she enjoys being a “big sis.” We love being able to watch Abby playing with other dogs and just having the opportunity to be carefree. While in the company of dogs, we know that Abby is no longer thinking about everything else in the world that frightens her. While she is highly intelligent, because of her fear issues we do consider Abby to be a “special needs” dog and it has been too much to ask of a dog-sitter to manage with her at home, especially with periodic fosters to care for as well. We were resistant of taking Abby to a kennel for the first several months after we brought her home from the shelter. We did not want Abby to think that she was back in a shelter. At first if we had to go out of town, we either limited ourselves to day trips in good weather when Abby could stay in our backyard; or we took Abby with us if we could find dog-friendly accommodations; or we just did not go at all. But once we began taking Abby to the kennel (which was at first done by making short visits, then staying for a few hours, eventually for a whole day, and then overnight), Abby seemed fine with the concept. We are fortunate to have a kennel in our neighborhood, which is normally very convenient. The kennel owner is familiar with Abby’s history and makes sure that she gets careful attention and also does not encounter any “bully” dogs.

On the day of our planned trip, we dropped Abby off at the kennel around 9:00 AM and hit the road. We arrived at our destination around 1:30 PM. At 3:00 PM, the owner of the kennel called my cell phone (our emergency contact number). We instantly knew that something was wrong. I pictured in my mind an attack by another dog at the kennel. We did not expect that what had actually happened could have been even worse. Without much detail, the kennel owner told us that Abby had gotten away from them. At that time, we assumed that Abby had slipped her collar (which we had checked before dropping her off). The kennel owner went on to tell us that he did find Abby, and at our house! My wife and I were both surprised and proud of our girl. But the kennel owner could not get close enough to Abby and she ran from him. The kennel owner asked if we could think of any tricks or lures that would help him to calm Abby so that he could get a leash on her. At that moment, Abby had disappeared and was running scared through the neighborhood–through speeding traffic is what we were picturing in our minds. We were totally helpless and 250 miles away! As calmly as I could, I told him that I had just one idea. I called our neighbors and asked them take our foster, Soleil, out on a leash and walk her near our house. I also asked them leave the doors to our house and gate to our backyard open, hoping that Abby might just come in on her own and possibly even get into her crate, which is her “safe place.” We called on other neighbors to join in the search. We were doing our best to coordinate remotely by cell phone (with less than ideal service on rural highways). We started getting reports of Abby sightings further and further from our house. By this time, my wife and I were already heading for home, but we were still four hours away! We called some of our co-workers and friends who know Abby and asked for their help (of course our co-workers would not have left work early on a Friday afternoon, definitely not). Our hope was that the assembled “posse” could move Abby back towards the house, without driving her further away. We tried to direct some of the searchers to the routes that we typically walk with Abby. Within a few hours, things were looking grim. No one had seen Abby in quite a while. My wife and I were still helpless and hours from home. The search party began to tire and dissolve. Many had plans for the evening and some had to return to work (not that anyone had left work of course). A few friends were already making plans to rearrange their schedules for Saturday to help search and hang posters. One friend even filed a report for us with our city’s animal services. This person, who happens to be an expert in canine behavior, also told us that she really felt that Abby would find her way home again. We were grateful and knew that everyone had done all that they could. Soleil probably had the longest walk of her young life. Our neighbors told us that she was very energetic and helped to keep them energized. They eventually brought Soleil home for water and food and to let her rest in her crate. We told them to leave our front door and gate open. Another neighbor stood in her yard and watched for Abby until my wife and I finally made it home at 7:00 PM.

The owner of the kennel met us at our house and told us more about what had happened. He was clearly distraught and felt that we needed to hear everything from him personally. Abby was in an outside run at the kennel. She scaled a 6-foot block wall and chain link fence, walked across the roof of the building to a part fairly low to the ground, and jumped down into a service alley. She then started running full-out. One of the kennel workers, who did not know Abby, said “that dog is headed home.” Sure enough, the kennel owner found Abby on our front porch minutes later. When he approached Abby, she ran up our street, around the corner and the kennel owner found her at the house directly behind ours. He tried to corner her again and she ran back following the same path to our house. This time when he approached Abby, she ran up our street and back in the direction of the kennel. This is the point when others had reported seeing her. The kennel owner confirmed for us that Abby was in fact wearing her collar and tags, which was reaffirmed by a neighbor who had spotted Abby earlier in the day. This was somewhat of a relief, as well as the fact that Abby does have a microchip. The kennel owner told us that he had already placed an ad in the local weekend newspaper and was having reward posters printed to post in the neighborhood.

My wife and I were anxious to start our own search and we were quickly losing daylight. We knew that my wife would have a good chance of approaching Abby if we could find her, but Soleil was going to be my best lure. We left one of the doors of my car open in the driveway, having heard that might encourage a loose dog to jump in thinking that she could “go for a ride.” Our neighbor continued to stand watch from her yard. Finally on foot ourselves, and armed with leashes and dog treats, my wife went in one direction and Soleil and I headed off in another. We asked every person that we encountered if they had seen a dog of Abby’s description. Several people told us that they had not seen her, but that someone else had asked them earlier in the day. We were very proud of and thankful for the initial search party. They did a wonderful job, and on only a moment’s notice. My wife, Soleil and I canvassed a grid of several streets and alleyways. Soleil and I also worked our way into a nearby, large wooded park in our neighborhood where we have taken the dogs before. As all daylight was lost, so were our hopes. Then, my wife found some people who thought that they had seen Abby deeper in the wooded park than Soleil and I had gone earlier. Soleil and I joined my wife back at the park and began searching the trails with flashlights and calling for Abby. An expedition which would definitely have been terrifying to Abby if she were to have seen or heard it. Soleil’s part-beagle nose was working overtime. I wish that we could know if she ever actually hit on Abby’s scent. After a few more hours, we were losing hope of finding Abby in the night. If she was in the park, we prayed for her to stay there, where it would be relatively safe from traffic. Of course we could not be certain that Abby was ever even in the park at all.

We returned home and carefully searched the house and the yard to see if Abby had made her way back. Unfortunately, she had not. We began making reward posters, sending emails and pictures of Abby to everyone that we could think of and posting notices on local rescue and shelter websites, as well as submitting a lost pet classified at Petfinder.com. We also placed our own ad in the local newspaper, but not in time for the next day’s printing. Finally, we contacted Abby’s microchip registry. It is amazing how many resources are available 24/7 over the Internet. Of course, realistically we knew that we would be extremely lucky if any of this brought us even one lead, and if so it would probably not be for days. We put one of Abby’s beds outside, on the front porch and dimmed the porch light. Emotionally and physically exhausted, my wife went to bed. We fully expected to get up before dawn and start all over again. Soleil and I stayed up on the couch in case we heard anything in the night. Eventually we both put our heads down, but neither one of us could sleep.

Then, at 1:06 AM, Soleil sat straight up, looking at the front door. Four or five seconds later, Abby came up our front steps onto the porch, sniffed her bed and pressed her nose against the outside glass of our front door (a first from that side of the door). Even before Abby appeared, Soleil had sensed that Abby was coming home. I slowly got up and opened the door. Abby, rather casually for her, walked into the house. Thankfully, she was perfectly fine! Soleil, who is only about one-third of Abby’s size, immediately jumped on Abby as if to say “Where in the hell have you been…Do you have any idea of what you have just put me through!?!”

We are extremely proud of Abby for finding her way home, no less than three times, and at least twice while being pursued by strangers. Soleil was a trooper and searched tirelessly for Abby. We would like to think that Abby came home to my wife and I, but we both know that there is a very strong possibility that Abby was looking for Soleil the entire time and that may have even be why Abby broke out of the kennel in the first place. Because to Abby, Soleil was the one who was “lost.”

Soleil is a devoted friend to all of us and we will always be grateful to her for bringing Abby home.

If the circumstances were any different, there is no way that we could ever give up this little dog. She means too much to us, especially to Abby. But we know that it would be selfish for us to keep her. Soleil has more joy to bring to others. We also know that we can do more to honor Soleil by helping other dogs, hopefully many other dogs. But let it be known to all that Soleil is, and will forever be, our hero.

Humbly,

Jennifer and James Huskins, Little Rock, Arkansas

adopted-ar2Abby was adopted from The City of Sherwood Humane Animal Services Department, Sherwood, Arkansas

Soleil was adopted from Little Rock Animal Services, Little Rock, Arkansas by Last Chance Arkansas, Little Rock, Arkansas in partnership with Mosaic Rescue, Saturna Island, British Columbia (with “forever home” adoption pending)

Source:  Petfinder.com

Abby

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April 18, 2009 Posted by | Animal Abandonement, Animal Rescues, animals, Just One More Pet, Stop Animal Cruelty, Stop Euthenization, Success Stories | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Help Pass California AB 233 – Pet Adoption Tax Credit

ASPCA Urgent Alert
Dear California Animal Advocates,     

As you know, pet abandonment is on the rise. Shelters are overburdened, and the animal welfare community is seeking creative ways to get more people to choose adoption over purchasing pets in stores or online. That’s why the ASPCA is cosponsoring California Assembly Bill 233, new legislation before your state government.

AB 233 will encourage Californians to adopt pets from shelters by making adoption fees tax-deductible—qualified adopters can deduct up to $100 a year! This will help relieve the financial strain on overcrowded animal shelters and provide new beginnings for the state’s growing number of homeless pets.

What You Can Do
AB 233 is set to be heard before the California Assembly Revenue and Tax Committee on Monday, April 20, 2009. Visit the ASPCA Advocacy Center to email this committee and urge its members to support AB 233.

Thank you, California, for caring about animals.

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Posted:  Marion Algier/Ask Marion –  JustOneMorePet

 

April 14, 2009 Posted by | Animal or Pet Related Stories, Animal Rescues, Animal Rights And Awareness, animals, Just One More Pet, Pets, Political Change, Stop Euthenization | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Where there is a will…

abandoned_dog_2

One of the greatest tragedies of the failed housing market is the cost to pets and animals.  And although highlighted now and again after some tragic event where a pet has been left behind to starve without food or water in an abandoned house or chained to a tree when their family moved, it has been under reported. 

Losing your home, often after having also lost your job in today’s uncertain financial environment, can be both scary and overwhelming.  People become panicked and often make rash and unsound decisions under the pressure or go into a state of denial.  But leaving your pet or any animal behind without making arrangements for them to be taken care of could end up haunting both you and your family forever.  A pet is a family member and abandoning them, besides being illegal, could leave permanent scars, especially on children. 

cruelty_dogOften lack of planning is the greatest culprit.  Friends or family members will usually take your pets, either permanently or until you or an adoptive family can take them, if you really cannot or do not know where you are going or cannot take them along.  Running an ad in the local paper, online, or in the neighborhood ad sheet is usually free for pet ads, but people tend to want to believe that things will get better so often wait until the last minute when they are out of time and therefore often also out of options.  I have seen people walk their pets or sit outside a market with them wearing a sign:  ‘I need a home’ or ‘Will you take me home?’ with relative success.  Networking with friends, neighbors and co-workers, or putting up signs at markets, at your veterinarian’s office, church, and on community boards and mailboxes are also great sources, as well as contacting local rescues and no kill shelters.  Many pet sites also have message boards where you might find an adoptive parent or  a foster family for your pet, giving you more time to find another solution. 

I have also seen people negotiate with new landlords or network to find a place that will allow their pets to move with them, even though the listings originally said no.  Getting a written reference from either a former landlord or neighbors is helpful and working through a realtor or leasing agent also usually ups your chances.  Remember if you are going to rent, the owner pays their fee, not you. 

abandoned_exotic-birdsBe creative!  I recently came across someone who traded their car for an old camper by running an ad in the newspaper.  It gave the family and the pets a crowded but temporary place to live and stay together.  We are surrounded by community, sometimes our greatest failing is the fear or hesitance to ask for help. 

Where there is a will… there is a way, and it starts with planning.

By:  Marion Algier/Ask Marion 

 

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April 6, 2009 Posted by | Animal Abandonement, Animal or Pet Related Stories, Animal Rescues, Animal Rights And Awareness, animals, Just One More Pet, Pet Abuse, Pets, responsible pet ownership, Stop Animal Cruelty, Stop Euthenization, We Are All God's Creatures | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 43 Comments