A federal appeals court on Tuesday upheld Ohio's law restricting the ownership of exotic animals — denying a plea by owners, who alleged the law violates their free speech and free association rights.
Seven owners sued the state, claiming the new Ohio Dangerous Wild Animal Act — which took full effect Jan. 1 — will negatively impact their business of breeding and selling exotic animals, while compelling them to join exempted organizations they don't support.
A three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit ruled in favor of the state, after a federal judge in Columbus upheld the state law in 2012 when the initial lawsuit was filed.
"The burden of regulation may, unfortunately, fall heavier on some than on others, but that, without more, is not enough to render this Act unconstitutional," Circuit Judge Julia Smith Gibbons said in the opinion.
Sean Trimbach — owner of Best Exotics LLC in Medway and one of seven owners on the lawsuit — said the new state law cuts his income in half because he'll now have to sell exotic animals outside the state. He owns 16 acres and about 350 animals, including 200 affected by the law.
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