Should Pennsylvanians be allowed to own "Oh my" animals? You know, lions and tigers and bears - and other potentially dangerous exotic pets?
Incidents where those pets have proven dangerous or threatening to their owners or to the public aren't as exotic as you would hope.
Last year, a disturbed Ohio man released some 50 wild animals - including, yes, lions and tigers and bears - from cages on his property before killing himself, causing a panic, and police were forced to shoot many of the animals.
In 2009, a Pennsylvania woman, who also had a permit for, yes, a lion and a tiger, was killed by her pet bear.
In 2007, a mountain lion was apparently let out of its cage in Chanceford Township, causing authorities to issue safety alerts. Luckily, in that case, the cougar was recaptured and no one was injured.
With that as a backdrop, it's not surprising that the state House recently passed a bill that would outlaw private possession of dangerous animals.
It would cover lions and tigers and bears, of course - but also wolves, coyotes, primates, etc. (Not snakes, though.)
The bill, written by the state Game Commission and supported by the Pennsylvania chapter of the Human Society, is now in the Senate, said Sarah Speed, a Springettsbury Township resident and Pennsylvania director of the Human Society.
It wouldn't affect public zoos or menageries - just private ownership of such animals as pets.
The idea is to keep dangerous animals away from owners who, in some cases, are untrained and ill-equipped to properly care for and safeguard them. Currently, there are only about 30 people with licenses to have wild animals as pets - and they would be grandfathered under the ban.
Granted, this bill could be painted as overreaching by government in a state whose woods are full of, well, bears - if not lions and tigers. But it could protect the public against an incident similar to the one in Ohio.
These majestic creatures should be in their natural habitats - or at least at facilities run by people with demonstrable expertise in caring for them.
The state Senate should pass the bill - and Gov. Corbett should sign it.
- York Daily Record/York Sunday News