A man was injured Tuesday when he was attacked by a kangaroo at an exotic animal farm. The 80-year-old is one of the most recent victims of exotic animal attacks in Ohio, and again brings scrutiny to bear on the state’s exotic pet laws. The man was the owner of the kangaroo and founder of Kokas Exotics, the farm where the attack occurred. He has been discharged from the hospital, but the kangaroo is to be euthanized.
Ohio has essentially no regulations on the ownership and care of exotic pets, described as “nondomestic animals” in the code. Code section 901:1-17-12 “Nondomestic animals,” only refers to the importation of animals into the state and only prohibits the importation of animals that have an infectious disease or are in violation of federal or other states’ laws. The lack of regulation was highlighted last year when a young man was killed by a bear he was letting out of its cage for a feeding.
Proponents of exotic pets claim the animals are relatively safe, such as exotic pet owner Cindy Huntsman, who states, “Of the overall people who actually have snakes as pets, who actually have chimpanzees as pets, these incidents are a very small percentage.” Others point out that many people are attacked or killed by dogs, but no one is talking about banning dog ownership. Still others note that exotic pets are primarily dangerous to their owners and that their owners know and accept the risk.
It is true that about 16 people are killed every year by dogs, compared to the 9 deaths from tiger attacks over the five year period from 1999-2004, but this is not reflective of the actual danger the animals present. The 16 deaths from dog attacks are from a population of an estimated 75 million dogs in the US, about one death per year per 4.7 million dogs. The 9 deaths from tiger attacks come from a population of an estimated 7000 tigers in captivity, or about one death per year per 3900 tigers.
And while it is true that the victims of exotic pet attacks are the owners, as in the bear and kangaroo attacks, they are not the only ones at risk. In 2003, a 10-year-old boy was killed when he got too close to the cage of his aunt’s Bengal tiger when shoveling her walk. In 2009, a pet chimpanzee attacked the owner’s friend, who has recently appeared on TV after receiving a face transplant. Neighbors of the Ohio bear owner report his bears have seriously injured people in the past.
In response to calls for some change to the Ohio laws, outgoing governor Ted Strickland issued a 90-day executive order that banned new exotic pets and requiring strict rules for ongoing exotic pet owners. Unfortunately, even this ban, which has now expired, was not enforced by Governor Kasich, because, according to party spokesman, “If it was enforced at this very moment, it would hurt small businesses.” By which she means it would hurt their profits.
By all accounts, the trade and exhibition of exotic pets is a lucrative one. If you have been hurt by an exotic animal attack, your lawsuit against the animal owners can lead to protections that the government is unwilling to put in place.
To learn how you can pursue a an animal attack lawsuit, whether you were hurt by an exotic pet or a domestic one, please schedule a free consultation with the Columbus personal injury lawyers at Robert W. Kerpsack, CO, LPA.