“Kenny Hetrick’s story starts well over 40 years ago. Kenny currently and has been a USDA class c licence holder since 1989. He also has been a prior USDI holder. Kenny Hetrick has owned and cared for large cats and bears for well over 40 years. After the Zanesville incident Ohio placed a exotic animal ban, with stringent and untainable goals to meet in a short matter of time. At first USDA facilities were told that they may exempt then later told there were no exemptions, than there was talk about being grandfathered in which was not the case, then educational permits were to be granted then later to be told that was not going to be the case. Animal owners banned together and hired an attorney to fight the law on a constitutional level, the case was lost and appeals were filed to be lost again. At this time we were late already on being able to apply, but animal owners felt uncomfortable doing the requirements while the lawsuits were pending. It was like a man on death row being executed before the final appeal was heard.
The requirements included very expensive caging requirements and upgrades, microchipped, sterilization of all male animals even if no females were present, million dollar insurance policy, fingerprinting, costly application fees, to name a few.. Ohio department was well aware of USDA standards and in many areas doubled them. Most importantly the perimeter fence, as USDA facility the perimeter fence is 8 feet high and 4 feet away from primary fence, Ohio demands it to be 8 feet away. Having 40 years with big cats giving a tiger that much room gives them ample space to maneuver run jump and run past owner, increasing the chance of injury to animal and owner. All our fencing was connected to the fence posts on the outside of the poles, which since 1989 has been ok by the federal USDA, but Ohio required it to be all on the inside.
Kenny received a letter from a special prosecutor on Oct 8 2015 stating that he had 10 days to surrender the animals or else be charged criminally, he immediately retained new attny Karen Novak and she stated to immediately comply with law and apply for permit. To apply for permit you must sign a notarized affidavit stating that you have microchipped, sterilized and in complete compliance with the law. Which is a catch 22, if you applied but did not have requirements complete you would be denied and possibly be charged for perjury. If you didn’t sign the affidavits than your permit was denied. Kenny immediately applied for permit, along with written documentation of vet care, microchips, insurance, neutering of males, letters from his personal vet stating some animals were too old to be microchipped or neutered.
Kenny also included two written variance requests on perimeter fence and another fencing requirement.His daughter drove the application directly to Reynoldsburg. On Nov 17 2014 Kenny was inspected by the Ohio department of agriculture. Kenny had a weeks notice unlike the USDA inspections who show up unannounced. ODA proceeded to inspect for 4 hours, the special prosecutor at that time after visiting his facility decided to not proceed with charges and asked the ODA to give Kenny time to finish to comply with the law. On Jan 18th 2015 Kenny and his attorney received a letter stating they were proposing to deny his permit. Almost 2 months went by before he received any notifications whatsoever. The reason for denial was first and foremost being late to apply for permit even though he registered his animals as required. ODA stated there was a public safety concerns and animals well being. Again USDA inspected the facility unannounced on Aug 28th 2014 with no issues, and they were stating public safety yet they did nothing about it until Jan2 2015. On Jan 27th Kenny met with his attorney to start the appeal process which was stated in the purposing to deny permit letter. On the early morning of Jan 28th at 8 am ODA pulled into Kennys driveway and demanded he surrender the animals, Kennys attny stated to the ODA over the phone to leave the property immediately. ODA was back within an hour with a warrant in hand for an INSPECTION! ODA never gave Kenny a transfer order stating their intent to remove animals nor was the judge that signed warrant aware. ODA was to inform Kenny two days prior to notify in person of their intent, what ODA didn’t know is that Kenny has surveillance video all over his property that proves without a doubt that no one attempted to do this. The ODA showed up on Jan 28th the 4 year anniversary of his wife’s death, a 16 degree day and ripped the 6 tigers, 25 year old lion a 24 year old liger, and 16 year old leopard, a cougar and a hibernating grizzly bear out of their dens.They proceeded to tranq the bear in his den and left him facedown in the snow for 43 mins before attempting to drag him through the snow. The ODA tranquilized the animals and dragged them through the snow around the compound on nets,although there were plenty enough people to have carried the animal with the respect and the dignity the animals deserved. Dragging them through the snow with 100 supporters watching from across the street was another slap in the face to all involved.They were placed inside enclosed horse trailers that was heated with a salamander heater (not very safe due to fumes and the straw and the fact that no one was in the trailer for a 3 1/2 hour trip) .Not one vet nor personnel asked Kenny if any of his animals were under vet care, taking medications or if there was any concerns regarding tranq and transporting, Also all the animals had access to food and water till the moment they were tranquilized. Kennys attny went to court house and filed a stay and it was granted to immediately return the animals which the ODA did not comply with. Now currently the animals are being kept inside a pole barn with no natural sunlight, on concrete which they have never felt before, eating a different diet and drinking different water. ODA has refused Kennys personal vet to drive down and personally check on animals, nor visitation rights has been granted. Kenny has only been told once in a newspaper article that all animals were awake and eating.
No more information than that, On Feb 19 and 20 Kenny traveled to Columbus for the hearing on the transfer order, the columbus zoo vet and the state vet testified as did Kenny and several creditable witnesses in his favor, among those was a fencing expert who testified that all cages were safe . The hearing was continued to a later date due to the fact that the state did not give enough time for Kennys subpoenas to be delivered. Later in March are the dates set for actual appeal denial of permit but in both hearings the final say goes to the chief director of the ODA David Danials, who is the one who put this all in motion. Once these hearings are denied we will appeal and hopefully have our day in court in front of an impartial judge and get the animals home to where they belong. It has been almost a month since the animals were taken and everyday it is more heartbreaking. Kenny is a active duty police officer, a veteran of the United states Army and a upstanding tax paying citizen of the state of Ohio. He has paid over $60,000 dollars in upgrades not including attny fees to try and comply with the law in hopes of the regards to seeing several news paper articles quoting David Danials himself that the state is willing to work with owners who are still trying to comply with the law.Kenny has 20,000 supporters on his save tigerridge pageHis website is www.SaveTigerridge.com. The community is in a uproar and demanding justice.Kennys website is http://www.savetigerridge.com/
He has a gofund me account http://www.gofundme.com/3omrpo to help with legal fees and is requesting help. Other states are just copying and pasting Ohios law to their own, we must ban together and stop this here!***UPDATE** Leo our beloved Lion was put down after suffering after months at the hands of the oda vets and caretakers. His wounds from laying months of the hard concrete with no medications or interventions is the worst case of animal cruelty. The animals have been moved secretively without anyones consent of knowledge to facilities throughout the United states, 2 of which have the exact same permit that tigerridge does. We have 4 active court cases with the very good possibility of going to the Supreme court if we have to, to get the animals back home. So many injustices have been layed upon a man that only wanted to take care of his animals and let them live out their lives in a safe secure and loving home. We are fighting for your right to own animals, ODA is setting regulations of bee keepers, dog owners, if we don’t stop them now, they will be beating down someone else’s door every soon.”