Nov 21, 12:44 PM EST

Ohio judge orders return of tigers, exotics seized by state

TOLEDO, Ohio (AP) -- A judge in Ohio is ordering state officials to return six tigers and four other exotic animals to a roadside sanctuary where they were seized nearly two years ago.

The ruling issued Monday says the Ohio Department of Agriculture unfairly denied a permit to a Toledo-area man who had owned the animals for years.

Ohio officials will appeal the ruling and attempt to stop the animals from being returned until the appeal plays out in court.

The state took custody of the animals from Kenny Hetrick in January 2015 after officials say he ignored warnings about needing a permit. Inspectors also say his cages weren't secure enough to stop an escape.

Hetrick says he was treated differently than other animal owners when the state began cracking down on keeping exotics.

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