Easy to own exotic animals in Missouri

After the recent events in Ohio, where an owner of a farm freed several exotic animals and then committed suicide, it begs the question, how does someone end up with his own dangerous animals at home?

Scott Surface lives across the street from Boone County TMs D&D Farm Animal Sanctuary and Rescue. It TMs been the haven of rescued exotic animals just north of Columbia for nearly 20 years. It TMs the home of lions, tigers, cougars, bobcats and wolves, just to name a few. Surface doesn TMt think what happened in Ohio will happen in his backyard.

Surface said, I TMve got a 9-year-old daughter and a 12-year-old son that come out here and play and play and play. I have no worries at all about them being out here. I think they would have them well contained before anything would happen.

Humane Society Officials said Missouri, Nevada, North Carolina, Ohio and Oklahoma are the most lenient when it comes to allowing dangerous wildlife as pets. In Missouri, you can own an exotic animal just by getting a federal, state or county permit. Exotic pets are sold on auction and in the classifieds of animal magazines, where $8,000 can buy you a baby tiger and $30,000 can get you a snow tiger.

Boone County Animal Control Officers said Missouri needs tougher laws for exotic animal owners. In Missouri, there are actually more laws about having dogs than there are tigers.

Animal Control Officer Molly Ault said, Dogs are not allowed to run loose. They are not allowed to bite people. The exotics aren TMt, either. People who have them normally don TMt want people to know that they have them and they might, purely by accident, get loose and that TMs how we find them.

Ault said the owners of D&D Farm have been very cooperative with Boone County Animal Control and have not caused any problems. Scott Surface admits he keeps his guard up as he enjoys the thrill of his exotic neighbors.

Surface said, I wouldn TMt have it any other way. It TMs really nice.

The owners of D&D Farm Dale and Debbie Tolentino did not respond to our phone calls.

The farm is a non-profit organization that operates solely off donations.