It’s almost been a year since 50 exotic animals were released from a farm near Zanesville and Muskingum County Sheriff Matt Lutz says Ohio’s in a much better position today than when he pulled up to Terry Thompson’s farm in mid-October of 2011.
“I’m very happy with the legislation Ohio has passed in regards to exotic animal ownership. We’re in a better place now than we were a year ago,” said Lutz. “New legislation isn’t going to be a fix all. But, we have a lot of guidelines and restrictions that are going to make Ohio a safer place by 2014. We’re better off than we were.”
On October 18 and 19, 2011, Lutz and his deputies searched Muskingum and surrounding counties for the exotic animals, which included Bengal tigers, bears and lions. Animal farm owner Terry Thompson released the animals and then killed himself. It is still unclear why he decided to release the animals and put the public at risk. Since then, Lutz has lobbied for exotic animal ownership laws on the state and federal levels.
Lutz will speak at Ohio University Lancaster on Friday, October 19 at 1 p.m. to mark the one year anniversary of the incident. He will talk about the struggles and dangerous experiences he and has deputies faced, as well as the decision to put down 48 of the animals.
Thompson’s farm had 56 exotic animals on it. In September, 2012, Lutz traveled to Washington D.C. to talk to congress about the need for federal exotic animal laws.
‘Seven states still do not have legislation on exotic animal ownership,” said Lutz. ‘Federal legislation would put something on the books in those states.”
Lutz will speak in the Raymond S. Wilkes Gallery for the Visual Arts from 1 p.m. to 2 p.m.He will take questions from the audience as well. The speech is open to the public.