A human/animal advocate

Tim Harrison protects exotic animals and educates people

by Josher Lumpkin

Photo: Tim Harrison, Outreach for Animals founder


Tim Harrison is a self-described human/animal advocate. For over 40 years, he has worked with animals and people to ensure the safety and well-being of both crea-tures in a world that is in-creasingly full of threats.irteen years ago, the now-retired Oakwood Public Safety Ocer (Oakwood’s combination police/firefighter/para-medic), decided to start a nonprot called Outreach for Animals to educate the public, as well as to rehabilitate wild, dangerous and exotic animals that had been kept as pets by untrained owners. “Our educational facilities and our educa-tional TV is not fullling what needs to be done,” Harrison says by phone from Texas, where he teaches Homeland Security and FEMA courses at Texas A&M. “at’s why my organization had to be started. We have a simple concept. e police ocers, re-ghters and paramedics, the nurses, the doctors, the veterinarians and now the lawyers, from all over the country; and this is our mission: to teach proper behavior around wildlife. You sure as hell don’t see it on TV, and you sure as hell don’t get it in your educational facilities.”Harrison also starred in 2011 documentary, “e Elephant in the Living Room,” a heart-wrenching documentary that is currently stream-ing on Netix and Amazon. e lm follows Harrison as he aempts to prevent tragedy for Ohio man Terry Brumeld, the owner of two very large African lions. “Mike Webber, who is the lmmaker, did a fantastic job at not taking any sides,” Har-rison says. “Michael Moore chose that as the most perfect documentary out that year. We won several awards and were shown at a bunch of festivals. [Webber] did a perfect job. He didn’t pick any sides.”Harrison explained that the big striped cats people are keeping in their homes and backyards aren’t even really tigers anymore – they’re a whole new breed.“What they’re breeding now are all mus,” he explains. “ey’re mixtures of Siberian and Bengal. ey’re bred in some-body’s backyard, and that’s why we have oversaturation of them. ey’re American Tigers. ey’re not ever going to go back to the wild. So, it’s the saddest thing you’re ever gonna see, but that’s just one of the things we’re ghting right now, is to get people to wake up. We have more tigers in the state of Ohio in people’s ownership than they had in India, which only had 1,400 last year”Now, you’re probably thinking, “Why on earth would anyone want to own an animal that can kill you?” Harrison believes the an-swer is buried in the Ameri-can institutions of consum-erism and ownership.“You remember ‘101 Dal-matians,’ right?” he asks. “As soon as it came out everybody bought Dalma-tians, didn’t they? Ask the Humane Societies around the country. ey got over-whelmed with them. Same with ‘Finding Nemo,’ another perfect ex-ample. e whole stinking movie was ‘don’t put me in an aquarium.’ e American citi-zens saw that movie, and clownsh turned into a 3.5 billion dollar industry the very next year. So, we have this idea in the Unit-ed States that we must have. We must be able to control.You can buy a tiger, but you can’t buy common sense. at’s the problem.”Harrison also discussed legislation that Outreach for Animals is backing. “ere’s a national law we’re pushing right now called the Big Cat Public Safety Protection Act,” he explains. “e American Bar Association, emergency room doctors, sheris across the country are all on board with it. We’re pushing this year, and hope-fully we’re gonna get that law passed. And it’s for people not to be able to breed big cats in their backyards. Sounds like common sense, right? Untrained people should not own these animals.”Before going out to wres-tle the wildlife in Ohio’s beautiful springtime wilder-ness, Harrison wants you to remember, “Don’t be ob-noxious outsiders when you go into the woods. Be part of the environment. Don’t go crashing in like Steve Irwin. Let’s go back to re-specting these creatures for what really are, and enjoy them from a distance.And get dogs and cats that are waiting for a home right now. ey’re waiting!” To the people who own exotic animals like bears, ti-gers and venomous snakes, these pets are family mem-bers. ey love them like their children. e problem, Harrison says, is not a short-age of love, but instead a dis-regard for the animal’s well-being. “Ninety-ve percent of all dangerous wild and exotic animals kept as pets have never seen a veterinarian,” Harrison says. “at’s something people really need to know. When you buy something like this, who’s the veterinarian that’s gonna take care of it? ese people love these animals, but they’re loving them to death. Because there’s a lot of these animals that are dying in people’s backyards that we don’t even know about. “You can buy a tiger, but you can’t buy common sense. That’s the problem.” – Tim Harrison, Outreach for AnimalsA human/animal advocateTim Harrison protects exotic animals and educates peopleBy Josher LumpkinIt’s sad. It’s emotional for the people, as well as the animals. It kills them both.” For more information about Outreach for Animals, visit outreachforanimals.org.

For more information on the lm “Te Elephant in the Living Room” please visit theelephan-tinthelivingroom.com


Reach DCP freelance writer Josher Lumpkin at josherlumpkin@DaytonCityPaper.com.

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Josher Lumpkin is a nursing student and aspiring historian who enjoys writing about music and geekdom of all kinds. He is especially fond of punk rock, tabletop gaming, sci-fi/fantasy and camping with his wife, Jenner, and their dogs, Katie and Sophie. Reach him at JosherLumpkin@DaytonCityPaper.com.

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