OAAO, Ohio Association of Animal owners inc     oaao, ohio association of animal owners
of animal owners inc
An  Incorporated  Non-Profit Organization
updates coming soon 750-507-1341    EMail:   purrfectendings@yahoo.com
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Now that the Mt Hope auction has come and gone, I’d like to give our members an update on where we stand.

Although the lawsuit is over and we were not successful in our challenge of the "dangerous wild animal and restricted snake" legislation that passed in 2012, all is not lost. Ohio Department of Agriculture has been (surprisingly) very cooperative in issuing permits to those who applied for them. In fact, it’s my understanding that there was not a single permit denied. The few who chose not to apply for the permit are still receiving letters from ODA urging them to apply, even though the deadline for permit applications is long past. So, that is some-what encouraging.  

Although OAAO opposed the bill and worked strenuously to defeat it, there is some consolation in the fact that the list of banned animals isn’t quite as lengthy as it could have been, and as HSUS and other proponents wanted it to be. Several of the primates are specifically exempted and can be freely kept, bred and sold as before, without any permits; and some of the cats such as the Savannahs were kept off the list entirely. Those are just two examples.  

Throughout the legislative hearings and afterward, during the lawsuit, many --- and I say many --- people joined in to help defeat the bill, and after it passed, to help with the lawsuit to overturn it. I cannot even begin to express how proud I am of our people. If someone had asked me two years ago if we could raise over $60,000 to fight this thing, I would frankly have been somewhat doubtful. But, we did it. You did it. Some people gave a lot, some couldn’t give as much, but together we managed to send over $60,000 to the attorney. And even though we weren’t able to raise enough to petition the U.S. Supreme Court to hear the appeal, donations are still coming in (and hopefully will continue to come in) to put toward the past due portion of the attorney bill.

The attorney had told us in the beginning (June 2012) that by the time this lawsuit was settled, it could run as much as $100,000 to $200,000 --- and it has. The outstanding bill is just under $60,000.

Some folks are asking why the decision was made not to proceed with the U.S. Supreme Court petition. It is not because the attorney was afraid we’d lose. On the contrary, we had a strong case and he felt we had a very good chance of the Court’s deciding to hear it because of the free speech/compelled speech argument (the law forces us to pay money to AZA/ZAA in order to be exempt, and those organizations use that money to lobby against us). Bottom line is, the money ran out, and as much as he wanted to proceed with the Supreme Court appeal, he could not do it with some $60,000 still owed and no assurance of a significant amount of money coming in anytime soon.

Where do we go from here? OAAO will continue to work for the animal owners as we always have. Yes, this is our first significant setback. We gave it our all and we didn’t lose all, but we lost a portion. We also learned some very valuable lessons about Ohio’s politicians and judges, and the lawsuit has affected our pocketbooks, individually and as an organization.

Those who have chosen not to apply for the required permits will very likely be faced with their own legal challenges if and when ODA decides time has run out for those owners and they must surrender their animals or face the penalties.

The majority of the money that’s come in over the last two years has gone to pay the attorney, even though the lawsuit was not filed on behalf of the OAAO. Some of the seven Plaintiffs named in the lawsuit are OAAO members, some are not. However, it was the Board’s decision to support the lawsuit, which we have done. We will continue to send payments to the attorney to the extent that the money comes in to us for the Legal Fund. We sent him another $500 on September 24th, which was donated at the Mt. Hope Auction by Scotty Brown, who is not even from Ohio.

Our treasury has taken a tremendous hit because of the lawsuit. Memberships come due in March, which should help to put us back on track financially. We’ve never had a huge treasury, but enough to run the organization and produce the newsletter. Since we are in the last year of this legislative session and the politicians have been out campaigning since the Spring, there hasn’t been much in the way of trips to Columbus for hearings and meetings; but that will be starting up again after the first of the year.

I hope you’ve taken the time to read this message in its entirety, because when there’s a setback like this, we can expect there to be some dissatisfaction in the ranks. Had we won the case, it would be entirely different. But, in a lawsuit, there’s always a winner and a loser, and even if you win, you lose a lot of $$. OAAO is not accustomed to losing a legislative battle, and this is the first court battle we’ve been a part of. It doesn’t sit well with me that the politicians succeeded in ramming this bad legislation down our throats, and the courts sided with them. But, as I said before, all is not lost. The exotic animal industry in Ohio is still very much alive, even though we’re smarting from losing a portion of our rights with regard to those animals now designated as "wild and dangerous".

Let’s all try and put this loss behind us as much as we can, and buckle down and make 2015 a better year for us and our animals. Those who have not applied for the required permits may want to rethink that, while ODA is still offering that opportunity.

Polly Britton, Legislative Agent

It is with great sadness that OAAO has accepted the resignation of Orin Mast from our Board of Trustees. Orin has served as a District 3 Trustee for several years. His position is currently vacant. If you are interested in serving as a Trustee, please email me at purrfectendings@yahoo.com,
or call me at (740) 507-1341. 

Vicky Galle’, President

Dangerous & Restricted Animal Advisory Board Meeting Reynoldsburg, OH
Aug. 12, 2014 – 10:00 A.M.

The meeting to review changes to the Dangerous and
Wild Animal Program was very abbreviated, lasting only about 30 minutes.

State Veterinarian Ryan Powell reviewed the number of permit applications (89) and the number of permits issued (61). Nine permit applications have been closed. Powell stated that no applications have been denied. All animals that have been held at the State Facility have been safely moved to new homes according to Powell.

Dr. Glauer explained the caging requirement changes pertaining to reptiles. He also stated that there have been a number of exemptions granted to those owners with less than the required 1 acre of property. 

In Chairman Daniels’ opinion, the program is moving forward and working as anticipated. The Board seemed pleased with their "accomplishments" and patted themselves on the back. 

The floor was open for comments and questions at the beginning of the meeting; none of those present spoke. Among those in attendance were Terry Wilkins, Sean Trimbach, and Barb & Dan Boeh. There was also a representative of the HSUS at the meeting.

Gary Campbell, District 4 Trustee

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