Currently in Indiana, USDA-licensed wild animal dealers (monkeys, tigers, bears, etc.), as well as other dealers (pet stores, commercial dog kennels, etc.) are exempt from state animal care standards and oversight. Passage of this bill will require USDA-licensed wild animal dealers to obtain and meet state permit and welfare requirements.
Indiana's state care requirements are generally better defined to ensure appropriate space, enrichment, and safe containment for captive animals. Local oversight is generally better able to act quickly when animals are neglected or public safety is at risk.
These organizations have been involved in the rescue of dozens of wild and potentially dangerous animals from USDA-licensed dealers (and exhibitors) in Indiana in recent years who have failed to meet USDA regulations. In those cases, though in violation of USDA regulations, animals were forced to endure horrible neglect, and neighbors were forced to endure constant risks to their safety from escape. In some cases as the USDA was poised to act and press criminal charges, dealers were able to 'escape' the law, forcing the DNR to start from scratch to build a case again. All the while, animals endure suffering and neighbors are put at risk of escape and injury, or even death.
There are currently 22 USDA-licensed "dealers" in Indiana, including an exotic animal auction house (remember Zanesville, OH October 2011?), pet stores dealing in exotic reptiles, and commercial dog breeders, aka "Puppy Mills". Dealers need better local oversight. Animals deserve better living conditions. The public has a right to peace of mind. Your support of this bill can dramatically improve Indiana's ability to address non-compliant wild animal dealers. Thank you for your service!