Muskingum County Sheriff Matt Lutz. said Terry Thompson, 62, was found dead and authorities were waiting on the results of an autopsy. But he said based on preliminary investigations, Thompson released his animals and then died from a self-inflicted wound.
Thompson owned between 48 and 51 exotic animals. Lutz said most of the animals had been accounted for, but at least three — a mountain lion, a grizzly bear and a monkey — were still missing. Most of those that had escaped from their pens were put down.
Lutz said his deputies, who found themselves in a volatile situation, had to shoot some of the animals at close range. A Bengal tiger was put down after it got agitated from a tranquilizer shot.
“We are not talking about your normal everyday house cat or dog,” Lutz said. “These are 300-pound Bengal tigers that we have had to put down. “When we got here, obviously, public safety was my number one concern. We could not have animals running loose in this county.”
SWAT teams have been deployed, four school districts have been closed, residents have been warned to stay inside and, for all I know, the Ohio state legislature is rushing into an emergency session to ban something or other.
Strangely enough, I first heard about this story on Jay Weber’s radio program this morning on WISN. As it appears in the banter between Ken Herrera and Jay at the bottom of the 6 o’clock hour, it’s not available as a podcast, so I’ll have to sum up Jay’s position for you and you’ll have to take my word for it.
Jay said that Ohio has some lax laws on exotic animal ownership, and that there should be laws to block people from gathering a menagerie of wild, dangerous exotic animals. Mr. Weber is a conservative except when he is not (as are too many conservatives).
The government should have dominion to determine what animals you can own because they might be dangerous to you or to others around you, or the government should limit how many you can buy in a month or whatever. Sound familiar? They should. The same reasoning is often used to justify sensible gun control laws.
The only difference is that the Founding Fathers saw fit to explicitly mention guns. It would never have occurred to them that someday, somewhere, some government would see fit to ban big dogs. Probably wouldn’t have occurred to them that some people might want to keep poisonous snakes in their houses, either:
A man from Branson was changing the water in his rattlesnake’s cage this weekend when the two-and-a-half-foot western diamondback bit his right hand. The owner wound up in the hospital getting treated for the strike.
The Founding Fathers would have few words for someone making that decision. Requiescat in pace.
A poisonous snake in your house is mostly a danger to you. A tiger in your home is mostly a danger to you, but if it gets out and becomes a danger to me, the Founding Fathers did explicitly grant me and your other neighbors the ability to wield a hoe or a Weatherby Mark V in .460 Weatherby Magnum.
A government that can regulate everything, and conservatives who think the government must regulate every thing they think the government can regulate, are a danger to us all.