Ohio bear owner: ‘My soul is empty, my heart is empty'

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WDTN - Beairshelle Edmé – GERMAN TWP., Ohio (WDTN) – 48 hours after his bears were taken, Daniel Chambers is speaking out against state officials, Friday.

For a decade, Chambers has had exotic animals; his first was a mountain lion bought at what he calls a swap. From then on, Chambers said he was hooked on rescuing and giving wild animals a home.

The crane operator says he is not formally trained at any veterinary institution, but rather is self-taught.

2 NEWS' Beairshelle Edmé asked the questions some viewers have been wondering.

When asked how a person can get and access a bear, Chambers explained, "Before they (bears) were all over the place. It's not just bears– it's just any kind of animal. Everybody has their desire to have whatever they want. These aren't– We get them from a private breeder or an owner like myself. We're the one that usually surprise the zoo with theirs."

Chambers sees himself as an animal lover, one who could bear the responsibility of raising exotics. That's why he says Wednesday's raid is a violation.

"They asked us to register our animals. I did that," he firmly stressed. "They asked us to microchip our animals, against my will, I did that."

But Ohio Department of Agriculture says he never completed the permit application, despite Chambers' claim that 9 months passed without communication from state officials.

Edmé obtained a timeline of the department's notification process following the implementation of a 2012 state exotic animal law.

In German Township man's case, the documents show Chambers sent an incomplete permit application in March of 2014.

Fast forward to April 2014, officials sent a letter stating he could not have the animals because the application deadline passed, and he had still not completed the process.

Chambers counters that the state's allegations, "No, that's a bold-faced lie. I tell you– I held a state permit because that's all I needed for roughly 8 years– or maybe 9 years."

The self-proclaimed animal lover says he did the best he could for his bears and his previous exotic animals, a cougar and tiger.

As his American flag flies high behind him, Chambers said the state's raid operation is anything but American.

"There's no justice in all of this," a sullen Chambers reflected.

Seeing his cages barren, "Oh my soul is empty, my heart is empty," he said.

The animal lover plans to fight the state with the hopes of settling this in court.

In the meantime, he has a message for his fellow Ohioans in favor and opposition of his ownership of these exotic animals.

"I want them to know that they(bears) were well taken care of that they were loved," he said. "They were my family. They were my kids' family."

State authorities report the bears are currently in good condition. When asked if they were found that way, 2 NEWS did not receive an immediate response.

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