Friday, March 23, 2007

S.C.: Exotic animal ban passes as 'dangerous animal regulations'

By Stephen Guilfoyle / Editor

Chester County Council gave final approval to a ban on exotic animals Wednesday night, and it appears that the Tiger World issue that prompted it is over.

Lea M. Jaunakais, whose zoning request in January touched off some lively discussion about "exotic" animals and dangerous animals in Chester County was scheduled to speak for about 15 minutes at the council's meeting Wednesday, but neither she nor any of her core group of supporters showed up.

She had wanted to put up to 50 exotic animals, mostly big cats like tigers and lions, on a 40 acre tract on Simple Farm Road that she bought in December

County Council went ahead and, with a couple of changes, gave final approval to ban on exotic animals.

But the change might turn out to be significant. County Attorney Joanie Winters defended the ordinance as written, saying she had researched it before preparing it and researched other ordinances after preparing it.

Councilman Joe Branham said he preferred the ordinance to say "dangerous animals" where it said "exotic."

The council voted down the ordinance with the terms exotic in it. It then took up an amendment from Branham to change the term to "dangerous" animals and that motion passed.

Supporters of a ban on exotic animals were a little perplexed when Winters said the ordinance she prepared regulates exotic animals, but is not an outright ban on all.

Councilman Alex Oliphant made the initial motion for the ordinance, and he called for a ban on exotic animals.

Winters said the ordinance regulates "exotic" - now dangerous - animals that are already in the county.

It does ban any additional dangerous animals from being brought in, if the owners intend to exhibit the animals, Winters said.

As it was worded for second reading, it would not prevent people from keeping exotic animals as pets or for breeding purposes, she said.

Councilwoman Mary Guy said she would feel comfortable if the word exotic had remained in the ordinance.

One woman who was leaving questioned if the change.

A dog kept as a household pet might be considered dangerous, she said, and subject to removal under the ordinance.

"Did we do the right thing?" she said.

http://www.onlinechester.com/articles/2007/03/22/ headlines/breakingnews1.txt

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