Summit County, Ohio now has a plan, including methods and procedures that will be used, if there are escaped dangerous wild animals or exotic animals within the community. A Dangerous Wild Animal Response Team (DWART) has been formed to comply with state law for any such emergencies caused by human acts, equipment malfunction or natural disasters.
Many will recall in 2011, a suicidal Zanesville man released several wild animals he owned into the countryside and several were terminated by public officials.
The new state law (2012) bars ownership, sale and trade of exotic animals in Ohio. This includes any animal considered inherently dangerous such as bears, tigers, lions and some snakes. Those exotic animals already living in Ohio were grandfathered by the law and owners had 60 days from Sept. 5, 2012 to register the animals. Owners of animals not registered are liable for fines or other penalties, including jail.
It is a first degree misdemeanor not to obey the 2012 law on exotic animals.
Summit County Council’s Public Safety Committee recommended Feb. 3 that Council adopt a resolution regarding DWART. The members of the team will help plan a response to a dangerous situation, but are not necessarily the same people who would work the response, according to Brandon Davis, a planner with the Summit County Emergency Management Agency.
The 11-member committee, appointed by Council last May, recently learned that most of the wild and dangerous animals in the Akron, Ohio area live at the Akron Zoo, but there are animals registered in Cuyahoga Falls, Peninsula and Akron. It is not the registered animals that officials are concerned about, however, “These are the responsible owners,” a DWART team member noted.
If you or a loved one has become the victim of an animal attack anywhere in Ohio, please contact the Ohio law firm of Slater & Zurz LLP for a free consultation by calling 1-888-534-4850. Our lawyers have extensive experience with animal attacks and will provide you with valuable feedback and guidance about your case.