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Tuesday, June 25, 2024 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Lawsuit to Keep Couple’s Pet, Archie the Bear

MEDINA, Ohio (CN) - After denying them a "dangerous wild animal" permit, Ohio is threatening to seize a couple's 40-year-old black bear, they claim in court.

Debra and Jeffry Gillium say they have kept Archie "as a pet at their home in Lodi, Ohio" for the past 40 years.

They were in compliance with Ohio law until the enactment last year of R.C. 935.02, according to the complaint Thursday in the Medina County Common Pleas Court.

That statute says "no person shall possess a dangerous wild animal on or after January 1, 2014," but the Gilliums claim the state never provided them with an application for a permit.

Assistant state veterinarian Melissa Simmerman allegedly mailed the Gilliums an unsigned violation notice that the couple says violates the wild-animal statute.

Claiming that they are unable to appeal the violation, the Gilliums say "Archie the Bear is of advanced age and could be permanently harmed by a move to an unfamiliar setting."

Simmerman, the Ohio Department of Agriculture and ODA director David Daniels are named as defendants to the complaint, which seeks an exemption from the statute, as well as an injunction against the seizure or quarantine of Archie.

They are represented by John Oberholtzer of Oberholtzer and Filous.

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