By now we've all had a chance to reflect on the carnage in Zanesville, OH – even as more gruesome details continue to be revealed. While much ink is being given to the debate over the actions taken by the Sheriff's Department, the real question we should be asking is: Despite over 30 complaints reported in the last 5 years, why were local authorities powerless to take action in this situation?

After a kangaroo attacked and severely injured 80-year-old John Kokas at Kokas Exotics Animal Farm in Green Camp, OH on September 20, 2011, The Zanesville Times-Recorder reported that Sen. Dave Burke, R-Marysville (representing Ohio's 26th District), ODNR, zookeepers and other interested parties are working on statewide legislation to address incidents like the attack in Green Camp. “There is a problem. We want to make sure this doesn't happen again,” Burke said.

Chad Grody, the Marion County wildlife officer, said ODNR has no regulatory authority over non-native animals. “We regulate the fish and wildlife native to Ohio. The Ohio Division of Wildlife does not license exotic animals.” The kangaroo was euthanized.

This preventable tragedy reinforces what we’ve been saying for over two decades: Wild animals are simply not pets, and do not belong in the hands of those ill-equipped and unprepared to care for them. Absent common sense on this issue, stronger state legislation is needed – and now!

Although the Executive Order just signed by Governor John Kasich is a logical first step – until and unless the Ohio Dept. of Natural Resources (ODNR) Division of WIldlife is actually given regulatory authority over non-native animals, the lucrative trade in and collecting of inherently dangerous animals in Ohio is free to continue – with no oversight. According to USDA records, the State of Ohio is home to 236 licensed Class A Breeders, Class B Dealers & Class C Exhibitors. Our best guess is that there are at least another 500+ unlicensed owners of exotic “pets” in Ohio, but since no licensure is required for private owners like Terry Thompson, no one really knows.

How many more injuries, escapes, mauling and deaths are the citizens of Ohio willing to endure?
Let Governor John Kasich know how you feel about this issue.