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Dozens of exotic animals killed in Ohio

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Veterinarian Wolfe had tried to save a tiger in a heavy bramble by using a tranquilizer dart, but the animal charged her then tried to flee. It had to be shot and killed by sheriff's deputies.

Deputies responded to initial reports of loose bears, big cats and other beasts.

"I was about 15 feet from him and took a shot, and it didn't respond too much, and I thought we were OK, but within about 10 seconds he roared and started toward me," she said.

Sheriff's Deputy Jonathan Merry, among the first to respond on Tuesday, said he shot a number of animals, including a gray wolf and a black bear who charged him from 7 feet away. He said he's an animal lover and only took pride in knowing he was protecting the community.

"All these animals have the ability to take a human out in the length of a second," he said.

The Humane Society of the United States criticized Gov. John Kasich for allowing a statewide ban on the buying and selling of exotic pets to expire in April and called for an emergency rule to crack down on exotic animals until the state comes up with a permanent legal solution.

"Every month brings a new, bizarre, almost surreal incident involving privately-held, dangerous wild animals," Wayne Pacelle, president and chief executive of the Humane Society, said in a statement. "In recent years, Ohioans have died and suffered injuries. ... Owners of large, exotic animals are a menace to society, and it's time for the delaying on the rulemaking to end."

Born Free USA says it has tracked 1,500 attacks on humans or other animals, and escapes by exotic animals since 1990, with 86 being in Ohio. Travers said there's an urgent need for legislation that addresses the competency of Ohioans seeking to own exotic pets and owners' ability to provide for the animals' welfare as well as public safety.

Thompson, 62, had had repeated run-ins with the law and his neighbors. Lutz said that the sheriff's office had received numerous complaints since 2004 about animals escaping onto neighbors' property. The sheriff's office also said that Thompson had been charged over the years with animal cruelty, animal neglect and allowing animals to roam.

He had gotten out of federal prison just last month after serving a year for possessing unregistered guns. Thompson had rescued some of the animals at his preserve and purchased many others, said Columbus Zoo spokeswoman Patty Peters.

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