Monday, July 16, 2007

New Lousiana regulations ban big cats as pets

LDWF bans importation, housing of exotic cats — except Mike the Tiger

July 14, 2007

If you're thinking of importing a Bengal tiger to house in your back yard to keep roving bands of thieves away, you might want to think again.

The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries recently added big exotic cats to the list of Potentially Dangerous Quadrupeds and Non-Human Primates, making it illegal to import, possess, purchase or sell a big exotic cat within the state of Louisiana.

As a matter of record, the act covers tigers, lions, leopards, jaguars, cheetahs, cougars or mountain lions and all subspecies and hybrids of those respective cats.

Better stick to importing that wild-eyed tabby from the local animal shelter.

"We included big exotic cats to the list as mandated by the State Legislature," said Maria Davidson, LDWF large carnivore program manager, in a news release. "Public safety and the animals' welfare were our main priorities in developing the rules that will govern all big exotic cat ownership in Louisiana."

The good news is that if you possessed an exotic big cat by Aug. 15, 2006, and you can prove ownership, you can keep your stripped kitty under the following extensive conditions:

- If you already have an exotic cat, additional ones cannot be acquired by any means including breeding.

- Individuals must apply for and receive an annual permit from LDWF.

- Permitted exotic cats must be prevented from breeding by separate housing or sterilization.

- Permittee or designee must live on the premises.

- LDWF personnel must be allowed access to inspect the permitted big cat, facilities, equipment and records to ensure compliance with these regulations.

- A weapon capable of destroying the animal and a long range delivery method for chemical immobilization must be kept on the premises at all times. Additionally, the applicant must provide a signed statement from a licensed veterinarian identifying a designated veterinarian who will be on-call at all times to deliver chemical immobilization in the event of an escape.

- Clearly legible signs approved by LDWF shall be posted and displayed at each possible entrance onto the premises where the big cat is located.

- Each permitted big cat must be implanted with a microchip by or under the supervision of a licensed veterinarian.

- Each permitted big cat must remain in its enclosure on the property listed in the permit at all times and cannot be removed from the enclosure, except for proper medical emergencies under the direction of a licensed veterinarian.

- Permittee must notify the LDWF, the local sheriff's department and/or their local police department immediately if they discover that the permitted big cat is no longer in its enclosure.

- A permittee must notify the LDWF prior to any disposition of a permitted big cat, including transportation out of state. The LDWF reserves the right to supervise and accompany any such disposition.

- Permitted big cats must be kept in a sanitary and safe condition and may not be kept in a manner that results in the maltreatment or neglect of the big cat.

- Permittee must also comply with any and all applicable federal, other state or local law, rule, regulation, ordinance, permit or other permission.

Your exotic captive must be kept in an enclosure constructed of and covered on top with 9-gauge steel chain link fencing or something equivalent with tension bars and metal clamps.

If you're an accredited and certified zoo keeper, a research facility defined under the Animal Welfare Act or someone just transporting a big cat across from Mississippi to Texas, you're exempt from the rules.

Licensed circuses, with certain restrictions, are also allowed to house exotic cats. But circuses cannot include entertainment that involves wrestling, photography opportunities or an activity in which a cat and a circus visitor are in close contact with each other.

And LSU's Mike the Tiger is safe. Louisiana colleges or universities are allowed possession of a big cat if the species is traditionally kept by the college or university as a school mascot. But proper documentation that the college or university has consistently possessed a big exotic cat as its mascot over several years must be provided to LDWF. AID=/20070714/SPORTS06/307140007/1044/SPORTS060007/1044/SPORTS06

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Iowa's "Dangerous Wild Animals" bill is being implemented

By: Press release

7/9/2007 --

Legislation Prohibits New Animals; Requires Registration, Insurance for those Currently in the State

DES MOINES – Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey today informed Iowans of the steps being taken by the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship to implement the provisions of a bill passed by the Iowa Legislature this year regulating "dangerous wild animals."

The bill, Senate File 564, prohibits Iowans from owning or possessing a dangerous wild animal, the breeding of a dangerous wild animal, and makes it illegal to transport a regulated animal into the state. The legislation does allow current owners of dangerous wild animals to continue to own the animal if they meet several guidelines. One requirement is that owners must also have a $100,000 liability insurance policy for the animal with a deductible that does not exceed $250.

"The Iowa Legislature spoke in passing this bill that the public should have more protections from these animals and the Department is now trying to act to make sure we enforce the legislation in accordance with the legislature’s intent," Northey said.

Current owners can keep their animals if they, among other things, are 18 years or older, have never been accused of animal neglect, has not had a permit or license revoked to operate an establishment that sells or breeds animals, has not been convicted of a felony or drug offense in the last 10 years, has the animal implanted with an electronic ID device by August 29, 2007, and registers the animal with IDALS by December 31, 2007.

A number of individuals and organizations are exempted from the law. Exemptions include accredited or certified zoos, wildlife sanctuaries, person issued a falconry license by DNR, assistive animals, a person who owns an animal as an agricultural animal, facilities licensed by USDA, circuses, the Iowa State Fair, research facilities, veterinaries, animal shelters, animal wardens and others. A complete list is included in the legislation.

To cover the costs of regulating the animals, the Department is allowed to charge an annual registration fee.

A person who violates this Chapter is subject to a civil penalty of not less than $250 and not more than $2,000 for each violation. A person who intentionally causes a dangerous wild animal to escape is guilty of an aggravated misdemeanor.

A provision in Senate File 601, the Standings Bill, amended these provisions to include Russian or European boars as "dangerous wild animals."

A full copy of the bill can be found on the Iowa Legislature’s website at Questions can also be directed to the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship at 515-281-5321.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Utah city bans big cats, other exotics as pets

By Amy Choate-Nielsen
Deseret Morning News

AMERICAN FORK — When Sienna and Sierra emerge from the kitchen, they bound into the arms of their loving caretaker with wet kisses and giant paw hugs — a joyous reunion after a five-minute separation.

Until recently, Troy Bentley worried that he might lose these two wolf-hybrid dogs — now playfully wriggling on their backs for attention — but today Bentley can rest easy. On Tuesday, American Fork's City Council approved an exotic animal ordinance that forbids pets like Bentley's from living in the city, but since Bentley was here first and he and his pets were already properly licensed, the dogs can stay.

"I get to keep my kids," Bentley said, as 78-pound Sierra tries to snuggle into his arms. "These are my kids. ... They're wherever I am. If I'm in the house, they're in the house. If I'm in the yard, they're in the yard. They're constant companions; they're always with us."

Bentley's wolf dogs will be grandfathered into the city's ordinance until they, or their owner, dies. The same permission applies to any other resident of American Fork who has a licensed exotic pet, although the city isn't aware of any other such animals.

For other creatures that may consider crawling into American Fork homes as pets, the message is clear: keep out. According to the city's ordinance, which will become effective within the next few days, exotic animals, such as lions, tigers, bears — oh my! — and porcupines and pythons, are not allowed in the city except in circuses, laboratory experiments, zoos and a few other facilities.

If residents decide to keep an exotic animal — which, among other things, the city defines as a creature with a potential threat to the safety of residents and an uncommon history of being domesticated — the punishment is a $250 fine and possible prosecution for a Class C misdemeanor.

"The purpose for the ordinance is public safety," said Kasey Wright, American Fork's city attorney. "This is a common ordinance in many cities, and it was just a hole in the American Fork city ordinance that they didn't have one."

The city will rely on residents to report infractions to the city, Wright said, as a means of enforcing the ordinance. But Bentley says ordinances like this are hard to keep track of and they put the blame for being dangerous on the wrong species.

"I think (the city) has good intentions, and they are protecting the citizens to the best of their ability," Bentley said. "But I think there are better ways. ... I would rather see the (pet) owner looked at instead of the breed."

Still, Mayor Heber Thompson says he doesn't think the new ordinance makes the town less friendly to animals.

"I think we've been friendly to domestic pets, like most cities probably have," Thompson said. "But it is because of the thinking of the council and the little bit of citizen input we've got that we've made this ordinance that is family-protective and family-friendly."

This ordinance is a good thing, according to Russ Mead, general counsel for the Best Friends Animal Society, which is one of the nation's largest sanctuaries for abused and abandoned pets.

Even though Utah doesn't require wolf dogs to be licensed, Mead says the animals are dangerous and they can't be trusted. One minute, the animals can act like dogs, Mead says, but at any time, they can shift to be wolves.

"They can't be domesticated and they shouldn't be domesticated and they shouldn't be in people's homes," Mead said. "They're magnificent animals, but they don't fit in anywhere. ... It's just irresponsible breeding that creates these wolf dogs, and we (the Best Friends Animal Society) have to clean up the messes of the irresponsible breeders of these animals."

Bentley inadvertently brought attention to the city's nonordinance for exotic pets in February, when he moved from Oregon to American Fork. When the wolf-dog lover arrived in the city, he made a courtesy call to the city's animal control officer to let him know that his licensed and vaccinated wolf dogs were in town.

From there, concerns were raised because the city didn't have any laws prohibiting potentially dangerous animals, but Bentley was made aware that he might have to euthanize his dogs if such a law was put in place.

Bentley argues that his 6-year-old girls, with their ash-white eyelashes and big brown eyes, have never been violent toward anyone. The dogs are a mix of wolf, husky and German shepherd, which makes them stronger than average canines, but strength doesn't mean violence, Bentley said. Mixed dogs that lash out are a product of their upbringing, for which their caretaker is responsible.

"It all goes back to how a person treats the animal, not what kind of breed it is," Bentley said. "There are some breeds that are more dangerous, but (violent incidents) usually come back to human error, and we tend to focus on the breed."