Friday, April 20, 2007

Iowa passes bill prohibiting wild animals as pets

Animal Protection Groups Applaud Passage of Bill Prohibiting Wild Animals as Pets in Iowa

April 18, 2007

DES MOINES, Iowa – The Animal Rescue League of Iowa and The Humane Society of the United States today praised state lawmakers for passing a bill to prohibit the private possession of dangerous wild animals. It passed the Senate unanimously and passed the House of Representatives by a vote of 80 to 19 last night.

The animal welfare groups thanked Sen. Joe Seng (D-43), who is a veterinarian, and Rep. Todd Taylor (D-34), for shepherding the bill through to passage. The legislation now goes to Governor Culver and the organizations urge him to sign it into law.

"Iowa is part of a nationwide trend to prohibit the private ownership of exotic pets," said Tom Colvin, executive director of the Animal Rescue League. "We applaud state lawmakers for passing this important legislation to protect both public safety and animal welfare."

"Wild animals can attack, they can spread deadly disease, and the average citizen cannot meet their needs in captivity," added Michael Markarian, executive vice president of The Humane Society of the United States. "Whether lions, tigers, bears, wolves, monkeys, or dangerous reptiles, these wild animals belong in the wild, not in our bedrooms and basements."

The new law will prohibit the future acquisition of wild animals as pets. People who already have these animals will be able to keep them. Grandfathered animals must be registered and microchipped. Generally, they must remain in their primary enclosures. The law has no impact on zoos, the state fair, research facilities, wildlife rehabilitators, and other exempt entities.

With the passage of this legislation, all but about ten states have some restrictions on keeping wild animals as pets. A bill passed in Washington State earlier this week, and bills are now being considered by state legislatures in North Carolina, Ohio and Oregon. press_releases/iowa_wild_pet_ban.html

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Ohio: Got lions? Tigers? You may need a permit soon

Posted by Donna J. Miller April 18, 2007 10:04AM

A proposed law that would regulate the keeping of exotic animals is being discussed today at the Statehouse.

House Bill 45 requires exotic animal owners to get permits and pay fees through the Division of Wildlife. It gives the division the ability to confiscate exotic animals from owners who don't have a permit.

In order to get a permit, owners must have sturdy enclosures and fences and allow wildlife officers to inspect the premises at least annually. They also must have liability insurance of at least $250,000 to pay for injuries or damage caused by the animal.

The bill was introduced by Rep. L. George Distel of Conneaut. It is co-sponsored by Northeast Ohio representatives Mike Foley and Sandra Williams, both of Cleveland, Timothy DeGeeter, of Parma, Kenny Yuko, of Richmond Heights, and Lorraine Fende, of Willowick.

The legislation was written after a 36-year-old Ashtabula County woman was mauled by a 500-pound black bear that escaped from its pen in May 2006. lions_tigers_bears_get_a_p.html

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Oregon House bill would ban private ownership of lions, tigers

Animal Protection Organizations Urge Oregon House Committee to Pass Legislation Prohibiting Private Ownership of Wild Animals

April 17, 2007

PORTLAND, Ore. -- Recent incidents involving the escape of exotic pets demonstrate the need to prohibit private possession of wild animals in Oregon, say The Humane Society of the United States, the Oregon Humane Society and the Animal Protection Institute. Earlier this month a pet alligator escaped from a Coos Bay home and a pet monkey escaped through a hole in his cage in Lincoln County. Both animals were recaptured.

The HSUS, OHS and API are supporting House Bill 3437, introduced by Representatives Arnie Roblan (D, 9) and Brian Boquist (R, 23) to prohibit private possession of wild animals in the state, including alligators, monkeys, wolves, lions, tigers and bears. The House Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee will consider the bill at a hearing on April 19.

"This legislation will protect both public safety and animal welfare," said Kelly Peterson, The HSUS state program coordinator for Oregon. "Wild animals can attack, they can spread disease, and the average citizen cannot meet their needs in captivity. They belong in the wild. Fortunately, state lawmakers are poised to address this issue, and we urge the committee to pass House Bill 3437."

"When members of the general public can keep wild animals as pets it's a horrible life for animals and an accident waiting to happen," said Nicole Paquette, Esq., director of legal and government affairs for API. "Many animals become too difficult for their owners to care for and end up languishing in small pens in backyards, doomed to live in deplorable conditions, or they're abandoned."

"Our position has always been that the general public is ill suited to care for exotic animals with unusual and specific husbandry requirements," added Sharon M. Harmon, executive director of the OHS. "Exotics most often die early deaths from poor husbandry in spite of the intentions of their owners. There are tens of thousands of our closest companions euthanized for lack of homes in Oregon. If we can't provide adequate care for domestic dogs and cats, we have no business taking animals from the wild or producing exotic animals for the pet trade."

Currently in Oregon a permit is required to possess certain wild animals as pets. H.B. 3437 will prohibit future possession of these animals and add alligators, crocodiles and caimans to the list. People who currently have these animals will be able to keep them, but not breed or replace them.

In addition to Roblan and Boquist, the bill is co-sponsored by Representatives Vicki Berger (R, 20), Scott Bruun (R, 37), Brian Clem (D, 21), Larry Galizio (D, 35), Bill Garrard (R, 56), Greg Macpherson (D, 38), Tobias Read (D, 27) and Mike Schaufler (D, 48).

Previous incidents in Oregon include:

The body of a dead three-foot alligator was found in a creek in Douglas County in March 2007.

A serval (an African wild cat) escaped from a home near Aurora in November 2006. The animal was recaptured only to escape again on the way home.

A pet lynx escaped and jumped on a six-year-old girl's head in Clackamas County in August 2005.

A caiman was returned after three days on the loose in Lane County in June 2005.

A three-year-old girl in Bend was hospitalized after being bitten by a 40-pound exotic cat in her neighbor's yard in September 2002.

Susan Bluttman, (240) 672-1854 oregon_house_committee_.html

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Serval prompts review of Ill. town's exotic pet ordinances

By Reggie Jarrell,
Print publication date: 04/05/2007

Want that king of the jungle in your backyard? Always longed for your own alligator to wrestle?

In many area communities, you'll be out of luck if you want to own an "exotic" pet. In others, though, the law hasn't caught up with people's interest in out-of-the ordinary companion animals.

That's the case in Colona, where city officials learned current ordinances don't address the exotic animal question when approached by a resident who wants to buy a serval.

Servals are a medium-sized wild cat native to Africa. Including their tails, they average about 50 inches long, stand about 22 inches tall and weigh 30-40 pounds. Usually they are boldly spotted, similar to a young leopard or cheetah.

Colona Ald. Butch Downs, 4th Ward, said the city's ordinance committee will meet in a few weeks to determine what needs to be done.

"What would happen is, we'll look at the current ordinance that we have," he said, and go from there. "We'd like to be able to screen any exotic animal that comes in. Anyone wishing to bring in what we see as an exotic animal will need to come talk with us. We'd want to find out all the details, how it's going to be taken care of."

And it would be up to the city to make the final decision on whether the animal conforms to the law, he said.

The potential pet owner, who wanted to remain anonymous, said he will take delivery of the serval, born about a week ago, in about five weeks.

He said he wanted to make sure he was wouldn't be violating any state or local laws before ordering the exotic cat.

This would be his first exotic pet, but he has owned domestic cats for several years.

Ted Kutsunis, the assistant Rock Island city attorney, said that city does not have a specific ordinance regarding exotic pets, unless they meet the legal definition of being vicious or dangerous.

Mary Thee, Davenport corporate counsel, said the city does have an ordinance that bans certain types of animals or reptiles. The city works with the humane society to enforce of the law, updated in 2000.

Bettendorf's ordinance, updated in 1999, also targets some exotic pets. City attorney Gregory Jager said ownership of certain animals as pets is a crime, enforced by the police department with assistance from the animal shelter.

Moline has ordinances directed to both dangerous and wild animals. According to city ordinance, dangerous animals include "lions; tigers; other jungle, desert or mountain cats; bears; elephants; wolves; foxes; raccoons; monkeys; apes; poisonous or constrictor snakes; and lizards," as well as "any animal which has given its owner or possessor reasons to know that it is dangerous."

The city defines a wild animal as "any animal ferae naturae, or naturally wild."

"There's a generic ordinance for dogs, pets, and certain animals deemed to be dangerous animals," said Dean Sutton, Silvis city attorney, but no Silvis ordinance specifically directed toward exotic animals. He identified some dangerous animals, under the law, as elephants, venomous or poisonous snakes, wild boars, bears, apes and alligators.

State law says "all exotic or non-domestic animals, including prairie dogs, entering Illinois must be accompanied by a (state) permit and an official certificate of veterinary inspection."

People’s reasons for wanting an exotic pet can vary. Many are just looking for something a little different than the usual dog or cat.

Rachael Polito, pet department manager at Teske Pet and Garden Center, Bettendorf, said sometime parents will agree to buy a child a lizard or frog but not a dog.

She said public interest in some exotic pets, like reptiles, is rising, and there are some benefits.

"They are pretty popular," she said. "I think they are growing in popularity. I think it's because they are a little easier to care for than dogs, cats or birds. They don't require that much physical attention."

But Ms. Polito also said some buyers are unprepared for what's to come.

"Sometimes people buy exotic pets and don't know what they are getting into," she said. Problems can develop when the pet becomes larger and the owners don't know what to do with it, she explained.

And, although care for some exotic animals may be simple, that's not always the case.

"The more exotic you get," Ms. Polito warned, "the harder they are to care for."

Washington: Bill passed regulating cougar, tiger ownership

Historic Day for Exotic Animals in Washington State

April 4, 2007

OLYMPIA, Wash. -- The Animal Protection Institute (API) and The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) commend the Washington state Senate for passing HB 1418, the "Dangerous Wild Animal Bill," after seven years of debate. The two groups are co-sponsors of HB 1418, which prohibits the private possession of dangerous exotic animals such as cougars, tigers, bears, monkeys, and dangerous reptiles.

"Washington is one of only 11 states with no laws regulating the private ownership of dangerous wild animals," says Nicole Paquette, Director of Legal & Government Affairs for API. "Passage of this bill will put Washington state at the forefront of nationwide progressive animal legislation by boasting one of the best state laws in the country."

"Today's action by Washington lawmakers will protect public safety and the welfare of the animals," says Jennifer Hillman, Washington State Government Affairs Coordinator for The HSUS. "Over the past seven years, incidents in Washington have ranged from attacks on people to abandonment of animals when owners can no longer care for them. Wild animals belong in the wild, not in basements or makeshift cages in people's backyards."

A recent investigation conducted by API examined both private owners and federally licensed facilities in Washington state and documented stories of serious, unreported attacks by animals; people, including children, being allowed direct contact with dangerous animals at USDA-licensed facilities, a violation of federal law; poor animal care conditions; and inadequate and unsafe barriers.

"We applaud the Washington state Senate for taking a strong stand on this issue and hope to see the state serve as a role model of progressive legislation other states will follow," adds Paquette.

Note: DVD b-roll and still images of exotic animals in Washington State available for download; email washington_exotic_pet_bill.html