Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Slaughter of the Innocents

On Tuesday, October 18, just before killing himself, Terry Thompson opened the doors of the cages in which the more than 50 (number is disputed but seems to range between 45-55) exotic animals he owned lived their sad lives and released them to run wild. See the story here, in the Wall Street Journal here and in the Columbus Dispatch.

Ohio has some of the nation's weakest restrictions on exotic pets and among the highest number of injuries and deaths caused by them.
Apparently, there had been numerous complaints about how the animals were treated over the years, resulting in investigations but no action. Various media report that several different organizations (including a horse rescue) had at one time or another visited the farm in response to allegations of cruelty, neglect and failure to ensure a healthy environment. Due no doubt to the extremely lax laws in Ohio respecting ownership and care of, exotic animals, no repercussions ever occurred and he continued to collect wild animals.

Officers arrived in the area, armed with assault weapons and proceeded to slaughter the confused, frightened and disoriented animals. Sheriff Matt Lutz insisted it was all about "public safety" ... yet as noted below:

There, Lutz said, they found Thompson dead outside his house and “every single animal-cage door open.”Lutz said the deputies saw a number of animals standing outside their cages, still on the property, while others had escaped a fence that surrounds Thompson’s property. Deputies immediately began shooting animals, he said.
It sounds very much to be as if local law enforcement took full advantage of the situation to indulge themselves in big game hunting. From the number of stories I have perused, it was daylight when deputies first arrived - and they IMMEDIATELY opened fire. I am confused as to why tranquilizer guns were not an option nor why they did not immediately seek the help of individuals cognizant of how to deal with exotic wildlife.

While I understand the need to protect citizens, nothing I have read thus far indicates the animals were in any way out of control at that moment. Shooting, wounding and frightening them no doubt DID increase the level of aggression and I would think contributed to their running away.

I do not believe there is ANY place for individuals to "own" exotic wildlife. An understanding of their species, a commitment to creating a humane and positive environment, and the very expensive reality of feeding and housing diverse species is simply beyond the capabilities of most private individuals. Even relegated and government-approved zoos have difficulty keeping in the black - private individuals inevitably cut corners and create environments that are, quite simply, horrific for most animals.

The reality is that the mindset that prevailed for the past many years that you can "own" lions, tigers and bears (and other species) is simply immoral and untenable. Science has clearly revealed the complex societies which exist among the various species are far more nuanced and complicated than man had had ever envisioned. There is a growing awareness that keeping animals in small cages is cruel and inhumane and that IF they are to exist among our society, then money, knowledge and awareness MUST ensure that their environments are suited to their temperaments and needs.

Animals are NOT in this world to create a sideshow for the common man.

Animals are NOT in this world to provide "entertainment" or form a source of quick income.

We have a responsibility to recognize that we share this world with creatures which are different but not inferior to the human species. We are already decimating their natural environments; if they are reduced to living their lives in public arenas, then the very least we can do is provide them with a viable place in which to live out their lives.

The real victims in this tragedy are the animals. First, they are relegated to substandard care and from all accounts, neglect and then, already having been abandoned and ignored by the law, they are then slaughtered. I maintain that there must have been SOME way of ensuring that at least a percentage of these animals could have been captured alive and unharmed; they were, after all, fairly cognizant and familiar with human beings.

This goes for circuses which use animals; many stories have been written about the excreable conditions in which the Shriner Circus keeps its animals.

This goes for Marineland - where whales which are meant to swim the vast ocean are relegated to pools which would be equivalent to living in a bathtub
ZooCheck Canada aptly and tragically details many of the atrocities which occur daily here in our own province.

Deprivation and suffering are the hallmarks of roadside zoos is their motto. Visit their pages and enlighten yourself as to the atrocious and horrific conditions animals are living in RIGHT now in your own neighbourhood.

And as for Terry? I hope he rots in hell.


  1. As usual you have expressed my feelings, and I am sure the feelings of many, perfectly. This was such a total and complete waste of beautiful animals that could have been saved if someone had at least considered them worthy of thought. This Sheriff was a cowboy who had probably fulfilled a long desire to go on a shoot out but couldn't because of the laws he is supposed to uphold. I guess he had a good ole time pretending to be a big game hunter. He didn't break any laws!

  2. For these wonderful creatures to be caged for so long, in horrible conditions, and then to be suddenly released into a world they absolutely could not survive in nor comprehend and THEN to be killed with no regard to their beauty and unique worth in this world because of the chance they could cause harm in my estimation is a perfect example of the complete and utter shortsightedness and lack of empathy on the part of the Zanesville Sheriffs office, and all the other people involved in this senseless slaughter.

  3. Truly a sad story. That's a valuable info you shared there mate. I'm pretty sure, someone other than me, will find this handy. How long have you been blogging anyway? I've just started blogging and you really made it look easier. Good layout + good content = subscribers. You have one today. asr hip replacement lawsuit

  4. Unfortunately it appears everyone, including Jack Hannah and the Governor of Ohio, agrees with the actions taken by the Sheriff. God help our animals: