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State, Judge Dispute Who Can Order Ohio Exotic Animals Moved

May 13, 2016

A judge who enabled the seizure of five tigers and five other exotic animals from a northeast Ohio farm via a warrant and later ordered their return is fighting with the state about who has jurisdiction over such transfers. 

In a filing Friday with the Ohio Supreme Court, an attorney for the Stark County judge says the judge had authority to order the Ohio Department of Agriculture to return the animals to Stump Hill Farm in Massillon by May 19. The attorney says state law doesn't give the agriculture director exclusive jurisdiction over such transfers. The department says it has oversight of such matters, that the owner didn't meet tightened restrictions and that returning the animals poses a safety risk. The owner says they're no threat and should be returned.