Eleven exotic animals were removed from the farm of Kenny Hetrick at Stony Ridge, near Perrysburg, on Wednesday, following a site visit in November by a team from the Ohio Department of Agriculture (ODA) that found “numerous” safety violations regarding facility construction.
The wild animals removed from Tiger Ridge Exotics included six tigers, a bear, cougar, lion, liger, and leopard. The animals were transported to a state facility in Reynoldsburg to be examined and cared for by state animal experts and veterinarians.
Improper or unsecured fencing was cited by the ODA as raising the risk of escape, among other safety concerns, in a letter to the property owner at the northwest Ohio farm. ODA spokesperson Erica Hawkins stated that Hetrick had filed for a permit about 10 months after the deadline of January 1, 2014, established in the Dangerous Wild Animal Act in 2012.
The law was passed following the release of more than 60 exotic and wild animals from the farm of Terry Thompson, near Zanesville, in October 2011. Law enforcement agents killed 48 animals, including tigers, lion and bears, out of public safety concerns.
Hetrick obtained a restraining order from a second Wood County judge late Wednesday that called for the return of the animals to his property when it was safe to return them, though no date for a possible return was designated.
On Friday, the state filed a Notice of Appeal to the Sixth District Court of Appeals, which is a motion to stay the order filed in Wood county Common Pleas County on January 28, along with additional affidavits in the Wood County Common Pleas Court. The Motion to Stay continues until a scheduled February 3 hearing takes place.
This following statement was issued by the Ohio Department of Agriculture on January 30:
“Today the state filed an appeal in the Ohio Sixth District Court of Appeals regarding the Wood County Common Pleas Court Order to return dangerous wild animals that were seized from Mr. Ken Hetrick in Stoney Ridge, Ohio. ODA believes the trial judge should not have ordered the animals to be returned because Mr. Hetrick cannot possess them under Ohio law and because it would be detrimental to the health and well-being of the animals.”