On October 18, 2011, exotic animals were released from an individual's farm in Ohio, leading to a public crisis situation and the death of the majority of the escaped animals. The incident has led to conversation in Ohio about banning the sale and ownership of exotic animals, highlighted by a petition on Change.org. North Carolina should take a look at its own exotic animal laws, as state news sources such as The Charlotte Observer and WRAL have pointed out that North Carolina is one of ten states, along with Ohio, that do not regulate exotic animal sales and ownership at a state level.
As the catastrophe in Ohio showed, not only is the welfare of the animals at stake, but so is the safety of the public. North Carolina has already experienced a disaster, when "a pet tiger killed a Wilkes County 10-year-old in 2003, prompting an effort to draft statewide regulations on exotic animals". That legislation failed, as owners of private and roadside zoos that featured exotic animals spoke out against the legislation. Unfortunately, since that legislation failed, Pam Fulk at the Carolina Tiger Rescue has taken in many abused and mistreated tigers from these exotic animal operations. The tigers, along with other exotic animals, are often not well taken care of due to the lack of regulations or educational requirements enforced upon their owners. It is best that their owners be stripped of such a responsibility, and that the animals return to their natural habitats or, at the worst, state sponsored sanctuaries. It is obvious that both animals and people suffer as a result of the laxity of North Carolina's exotic animal laws.
Currently, "a county or city [in North Carolina] may by ordinance regulate, restrict, or prohibit the possession of dangerous animals". This needs to be a state-wide requirement instead of a local option. Exotic animals would not know the boundaries of cities or counties that choose to ban them if they escaped from neighboring counties that chose not to enact a ban. Regardless, the animals can be bought and owned by anyone, and they suffer by living in cages or in confined areas outside of their natural wild habitats. Please keep both animals and people safe, and ban the senseless sale and ownership of exotic animals throughout North Carolina.