VIDEO: Bear removed from Stark County home - News, Weather, Sports, Toledo, OH

VIDEO: Bear removed from Stark County home

Bear removed from Stark County  home. (Source: Facebook) Bear removed from Stark County home. (Source: Facebook)

All day Monday Jeff Fitzgerald has been crying over his pet bear Ben.

"And I said goodbye to him and he was licking me and grabbing my finger and stuff ." said Jeff.

He's had the bear at his Plain Township home for 18 years. Monday morning the Department of Agriculture took custody of Ben.

Fitzgerald says, "They were supposed to send me a letter they never did take me to court they never did they just showed up with papers from the state of Ohio."

But since November of 2014 the state has been citing violations to the pen in which the black bear lived. Telling Fitzgerald to fix the roof patch the holes and fix the fence.

Erica Hawkins, a spokesperson for the Department of Agriculture said in a statement, 'The owner was given numerous opportunities over the last 18 months to make the necessary upgrades to his animal's cage to bring it to compliance.'

"In 2015 the roofing was starting to go and I had planned on trying to get this done but me driving a truck and working six-to-seven days a week it's kinda hard," Jeff said.

Every time Fitzgerald was cited he agreed to make the repairs. He says Ben was secure and the state has been coming down hard on exotic animal owners since the incident in Zanesville back in December of 2011 where the owner released 56 wild animals before committing suicide.

Ben weighs 1,000 pounds and has been hibernating in a cave in his cage since November. He was due out in April. The state says has all Fitzgerald had to do is fix the cage and Ben could stay.

Fitzgerald says even though cage needed work, Ben would never hurt anyone or ever try to escape. He was happy.

The state took the bear to their facility in Reynoldsburg and will be later transferred to a sanctuary.

Fitzgerald could get the bear back if the changes were made up to code.

Jeff and his wife Sue also own Whisker's, Wings & Wild Things at 1200 30th Street NW in Canton.

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