Exotic Animal Owners Lose Case in Ohio, No surprise…but Sad

HSUS set up Ohio so that exotic animals will be banned. And even if owners are allowed to keep certain animals, they must be “microchipped.”  Here we go with the health, safety and welfare rational basis con law argument by HSUS.

HSUS of course, chimes in. Of course HSUS would like to outlaw wild animals, period.  HSUS would like it if there were no wild animals in zoos or definitely not owned by people.  OHIO Exotics Banned HSUS (PDF of ruling)

Constitutionality of Ohio’s new dangerous animal law challenged in court,  Owners Lose………
 Joe Guillen, The Plain Dealer 
on December 11, 2012 at 6:00 AM, updated December 11, 2012 at 6:05 AM

TIGERS-EXOTIC-ANIMALS-LAW.JPGWild animal owners are challenging a new Ohio law that regulates wild animal ownership.Associated Press file

COLUMBUS, Ohio — A wild animal owner said in federal court on Monday that the state’s new requirements for wild animal ownership would threaten the lives of her older animals.

Cyndi Huntsman, who owns a center in Massillon with 49 animals, is among a handful of owners who are challenging as unconstitutional Ohio’s new law regulating dangerous and wild animals.

The trial began Monday in U.S. District Judge George C. Smith’s courtroom and is scheduled to continue today.

Huntsman testified that a requirement to insert tracking microchips threatens the well being of some older animals. The animals would have to be sedated for the procedure, she said.

The sedation is “a death sentence for them,” Huntsman testified. “I’m not willing to do that. And I’ll fight as long as I have to.”

Huntsman and other wild animal owners filed a lawsuit in November to try to overturn the state’s new law that regulates the ownership of dangerous wild animals. The law was passed earlier this year after a Zanesville man released more than 50 animals, including bears and tigers, and then committed suicide. Authorities hunted down the animals and killed most of them.

The law bans ownership of certain dangerous animals as of January 2014. The deadline for owners to register their animals, with microchips, was Nov. 5, 2012. Further steps are required to maintain possession of the animals in 2014 and beyond.

The animal owners say the law is unconstitutional because it violates their property ownership rights. Under the new law, the state can seize an animal if it is not properly registered with a microchip.

Lawyers for the state argue that the microchipping procedure is reasonable and the law is necessary to protect the public.

“There’s significant evidence that microchipping is no more dangerous than vaccinating dogs and cats,” Ralph Henry, deputy director of litigation for the Humane Society of the United States, said in an interview.

The Humane Society has joined the state in defending the new law. (PD note; let’s be serious, HSUS is the one that got the law going, any idiot will figure that out.)

Henry said other courts have upheld the constitutionality of tracking mechanisms such as microchips.

In addition to her concern over the animals’ safety, Huntsman said the new law would hurt her business, Stump Hill Farm. The farm is a nonprofit organization that strives to educate the public about rare and endangered animals, according to court records. The farm, which is federally licensed, cares for 49 animals, including white tigers, lemurs, leopards and baboons.

“Under the ban we no longer can do programs,” she said. “We cannot exhibit at the farm under the new ban.”

Legal specifics:

The U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Ohio Eastern Division ruled Thursday, after a three-day trial ended last week, that “it is within the prerogative and function of the Ohio General Assembly” to regulate the possession, care and transfer of inherently dangerous animals. [In other words, they could do it as it is under the health, safety and welfare of the citizens and not apparently preempted by a Federal regulation; or if it was, they overcame that hurdle. We did not read the written ruling.]

Seven exotic- and wild-animal owners had challenged the law, citing financial hardships and inability or unwillingness to comply with some of the safety and care standards. The Ohio Attorney General, Department of Agriculture and Humane Society of the United States defended the law, formerly known as Senate Bill 310.  The owners LOST. No surprise since HSUS had been working with Ohio Dept. of AG since 2010-2011. 

“The Court acknowledges Plaintiffs argument that the Ohio Supreme Court has recognized a special relationship between humans and dogs. However, such property rights are not without limitation. The Ohio Supreme Court has recognized that “dogs are private property to a qualified extent,” in that they are “subject to the state police power” and might be destroyed or
otherwise dealt with, as in the judgment of the legislature is necessary for protection of its citizens.” City of Toledo, 114 Ohio St.3d 278 (2007).

Courts have held that ownership of a dog does not implicate a fundamental constitutional right. See Am. Canine Found. v. City of Aurora, 618 F. Supp.2d 1271, 1278 (2009); see also Colorado Dog Fanciers, Inc. v. City and County of Denver, 820 P.2d 644, 651 (Colo. 1991). In Colorado Dog, the court held that “dogs are accorded qualified property status and are subject to the proper exercise of police power for the protection of the public’s health, safety, and welfare.” Id. at 653 (citing Stone v. Mississippi, 101
U.S. 814, 818 (1879)).” pg. 29 of Judge’s order……..

Well, as we have stated in the past, we have been involved with national cases on animal laws and the above quoted paragraphs taken from pg. 29, (yes, those very cases)  even quotes cases that we are readily familiar with, and have participated in to some degree or to a large extent. Unfortunately this case is pretty much what will happen to any challenged law where ANY reason can be thought of to establish the rationale basis involving health, welfare or safety.  Like we have said, especially in the recent 7 posts, the rational basis is the lowest level of scrutiny in con law and is the easiest to overcome by ARs. and indeed they do it all the time.  That is why BSL (breed specific legislation) is still around.

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