US

Neighbors rally for 'Tiger Man' after state seizes exotic animals over permit, safety fears

  • Chief the wolf stands inside his cage at Tiger Ridge Exotics in Stony Ridge, Ohio, on Saturday, April 4, 2015. Ohio agriculture officials seized 11 exotic animals from Tiger Ridge in January, but they did not take Chief. The state says Tiger Ridge owner Kenny Hetrick ignored warnings that he needed a permit to possess what it calls “dangerous, wild animals” and that his cages weren’t secure. Hetrick is challenging the decision to take his animals. (AP Photo/Mike Householder) (AP Photo/Mike Householder)

    Chief the wolf stands inside his cage at Tiger Ridge Exotics in Stony Ridge, Ohio, on Saturday, April 4, 2015. Ohio agriculture officials seized 11 exotic animals from Tiger Ridge in January, but they did not take Chief. The state says Tiger Ridge owner Kenny Hetrick ignored warnings that he needed a permit to possess what it calls “dangerous, wild animals” and that his cages weren’t secure. Hetrick is challenging the decision to take his animals. (AP Photo/Mike Householder) (AP Photo/Mike Householder)  (The Associated Press)

  • An Ohio Department of Agriculture facility that houses what the department calls “dangerous, wild animals” is shown in Reynoldsburg, Ohio, on Thursday, April 9, 2015. The building is home to 10 exotic animals that were seized by state officials in January from Tiger Ridge Exotics near Toledo. The agriculture department says Tiger Ridge owner Kenny Hetrick ignored warnings that he needed a permit to possess the animals and that his cages weren’t secure. Hetrick is challenging the decision to take his animals. (AP Photo/Mike Householder)

    An Ohio Department of Agriculture facility that houses what the department calls “dangerous, wild animals” is shown in Reynoldsburg, Ohio, on Thursday, April 9, 2015. The building is home to 10 exotic animals that were seized by state officials in January from Tiger Ridge Exotics near Toledo. The agriculture department says Tiger Ridge owner Kenny Hetrick ignored warnings that he needed a permit to possess the animals and that his cages weren’t secure. Hetrick is challenging the decision to take his animals. (AP Photo/Mike Householder)  (The Associated Press)

Six tigers and four other exotic animals are at the center of a custody dispute between their owner and the state of Ohio.

Agriculture officials seized the animals in January after saying the owner ignored warnings that he needed a permit and that his cages weren't secure.

Ohio has been tightening regulations on people who own animals typically found in a zoo ever since a suicidal man in eastern Ohio released dozens of his animals in 2011.

Kenny Hetrick is challenging the decision to take his animals and expects to continue his appeal at a state hearing next week.

He has spent more than 30 years caring for exotic animals at his home outside Toledo. Many neighbors are supporting him by raising money and helping rebuild his enclosures.