Thursday, January 17, 2008

2008 WA bill to ban small exotic cats

2008 REGULAR SESSION

Jan 14 By resolution, reintroduced and retained in present status.


SENATE BILL 6132

State of Washington 60th Legislature 2007 Regular Session
By Senator Rasmussen
Read first time 02/27/2007. Referred to Committee on Agriculture &
Rural Economic Development.
1 AN ACT Relating to regulating the keeping of exotic animals; adding
2 a new chapter to Title 16 RCW; and prescribing penalties.
3 BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF WASHINGTON:
4 NEW SECTION. Sec. 1. Notwithstanding the provisions of Title 77
5 RCW relating to wildlife, and section 2 through 9 of this act relating
6 to exotic animals, a city or county may prohibit by ordinance the
7 keeping of wildlife, as defined in RCW 77.08.010, and may prohibit by
8 ordinance the keeping of exotic animals as defined in section 2 of this
9 act.
10 NEW SECTION. Sec. 2. As used in sections 1 through 9 of this act,
11 "exotic animal" means:
12 (1) Any member of the family Felidae not indigenous to Washington,
13 except the species Felis catus (domestic cat);
14 (2) Any nonhuman primate;
15 (3) Any wolf (Canis lupus);
16 (4) Any nonwolf member of the family Canidae not indigenous to
17 Washington, except the species Canis familiaris (domestic dog); and
18 (5) Any bear, except the black bear (Ursus americanus).
p. 1 SB 6132
1 NEW SECTION. Sec. 3. It is the policy of this state that the
2 keeping of exotic animals be regulated so as to ensure the health,
3 welfare, and safety of those animals and to ensure the security of
4 facilities in which they are kept, so as to avoid undue physical or
5 financial risk to the public. It is the policy of this state that
6 regulation place no more burden upon the keepers of exotic animals than
7 is required to accomplish the purposes expressed in this section.
8 NEW SECTION. Sec. 4. A person who sells an exotic animal must,
9 prior to accepting the offer to purchase, provide the prospective
10 purchaser of the animal with informational material approved by the
11 department of agriculture regarding the care, husbandry, health, and
12 nutritional needs of the animal.
13 NEW SECTION. Sec. 5. The requirements for a permit in sections 6
14 and 9 of this act shall not apply to:
15 (1) A wildlife rehabilitation center operated under a valid permit
16 issued by the department of fish and wildlife under Title 77 RCW; or
17 (2) A facility operated under a valid license or registration
18 issued by the United States department of agriculture pursuant to the
19 federal animal welfare act of 1970 (7 U.S.C. Sec. 2133 or 2136).
20 NEW SECTION. Sec. 6. No person may keep an exotic animal in this
21 state unless, before acquiring the animal, the person possesses a valid
22 department of agriculture permit for that animal issued pursuant to
23 section 9 of this act. No person may keep an exotic animal in this
24 state for more than thirty days after the expiration, revocation, or
25 suspension of a permit.
26 NEW SECTION. Sec. 7. Any person who keeps an exotic animal shall
27 keep the animal under conditions of confinement or control that, given
28 the nature of the animal, would be imposed by a reasonable and prudent
29 keeper to avoid physical or financial risk to the public as a result of
30 escape of the animal or otherwise.
31 NEW SECTION. Sec. 8. (1) A keeper of an exotic animal is strictly
32 liable for:
SB 6132 p. 2
1 (a) Costs incurred by any person or city, county, or state agency
2 in attempting to remedy the animal's escape from custody;
3 (b) Personal injury, property damage, or similar loss directly or
4 indirectly caused by the animal's escape from custody, the lack of
5 custody over the animal, or efforts to remedy the animal's escape from
6 custody; and
7 (c) Personal injury directly caused by the animal while in custody.
8 (2) Notwithstanding subsection (1) of this section, if an injury or
9 escape by an exotic animal is in whole or in part the result of a
10 willful unlawful act by a person other than the keeper, the keeper's
11 liability for damages resulting from the escape or injury is the amount
12 of total damages multiplied by the percentage of fault attributable to
13 the keeper's negligence.
14 NEW SECTION. Sec. 9. (1) The department of agriculture shall
15 issue permits for the keeping of exotic animals, as defined in section
16 2 of this act.
17 (2) The department shall adopt reasonable rules for issuing permits
18 to keep exotic animals and establishing conditions thereof. The
19 conditions shall be directed toward ensuring the health, welfare, and
20 safety of the animals, and, where necessary, the security of facilities
21 in which the animals are kept so as to avoid undue physical or
22 financial risk to the public. The rules shall be no more restrictive
23 upon keepers of exotic animals than is reasonably necessary to carry
24 out subsection (1) of this section and the purposes of section 3 of
25 this act.
26 (3) A separate permit shall be required for each species of exotic
27 animal kept. A permit shall be valid for a period of two years from
28 the date of issue and may be renewed.
29 (4) The department may charge a fee for the issuance and renewal of
30 permits under this section. The fee shall not exceed three hundred
31 dollars for each issuance and one hundred dollars for each renewal.
32 (5) The department may revoke a permit upon finding a violation of
33 rules adopted under this section, or the department may issue a finding
34 of violation and a warning to remedy the violation by a specified date.
p. 3 SB 6132
1 NEW SECTION. Sec. 10. Sections 1 through 9 of this act constitute
2 a new chapter in Title 16 RCW.
--- END ---


For the cats,

Carole Baskin, CEO of Big Cat Rescue
an Educational Sanctuary home
to more than 100 big cats
12802 Easy Street Tampa, FL  33625
813.493.4564 fax 885.4457

http://www.BigCatRescue.org MakeADifference@BigCatRescue.org

Sign our petition here:

http://www.thepetitionsite.com/takeaction/344896451?ltl=1140270431

This message contains information from Big Cat Rescue that may be
confidential or privileged. The information contained herein is intended
only for the eyes of the individual or entity named above.  You are hereby
notified that any dissemination, distribution, disclosure, and/or copying of
the information contained in this communication is strictly prohibited. The
recipient should check this e-mail and any attachments for the presence of
viruses. Big Cat Rescue accepts no liability for any damage or loss caused
by any virus transmitted by this e-mail.



Tuesday, January 15, 2008

FWC dissuades exotic pet ownership

FWC dissuades exotic pet ownership

By BRENDA HAWKINS
Thursday, January 10, 2008DONN BROWN / Staff

Naples resident Michelle Acosta has owned Sabre, an African serval cat, for five years.

Naples resident Michelle Acosta has had some form of exotic large breed cat in her living room for nearly 30 years. Her first cat was a Florida panther, raised from a kitten. After the panther's death from natural causes, she acquired an African serval cat.

While Acosta is not typical of most pet owners, the Florida Wildlife Commission is hoping to dissuade private individuals from raising exotic animals in their homes with new regulations regarding possession of dangerous snakes, lizards and large exotic breeds.

Because she has followed FWC requirements and passed regular inspections over the years, Acosta is exempt from new regulations that will require Class II wildlife owners to have two-and-half acres of property; Class I wildlife owners will have to have five acres.

What's the attraction of owning a large breed exotic cat? Acosta believes wild animals such as her serval, Sabre, are "God's most beautiful creations" and she cherishes the right to keep one in her home. Her view is shared by several other Collier County exotic pet owners on the state's wildlife permit list.

But for pet stores and breeders, the new rules make exotic animals too expensive and too time consuming to stock. Last year, the FWC increased the permit cost for exhibiting venomous snakes from $1,000 to $10,000. Owners are also required to create a critical incident and disaster plan, outlining how they will secure or evacuate the animals in the event of an emergency. Reptile owners must permanently identify the animals with a microchip before they reach a certain size, post cage warnings, keep a detailed inventory of births, deaths or sales, and meet stricter caging and facility requirements, as well as report any escapes.

Pets Plus owner Mike Shepherd said he no longer sells reptiles of concern, such as Burmese pythons and Nile monitor lizards. "A Burmese python isn't really a pet snake," he says. "I personally don't like seeing anything here that doesn't belong, even cats and dogs. Outside of humans, cats and dogs are the most invasive species there are."

Reptile Industries, a breeder in North Naples, doesn't trade in venomous snakes and got rid of most of its "reptiles of concern" inventory long before the FWC move. Owner Mark Bell says there was little market for the creatures and believes stiff permitting fees and hefty insurance requirements will likely spell the end for purely educational traveling demonstrations featuring the animals.

Naples Zoo director David Tetzlaff says the zoo has a $4 million liability policy and a $10,000 surety bond that covers its popular exhibit, "Serpents – Fangs & Fiction," an educational show exhibiting venomous snakes.

"The response from the public has been phenomenal," he says of the exhibit. "I plan to keep growing the collection."

While he does not condone individual ownership of reptiles of concern, Tetzlaff says the use of these animals for public education is vital in an area with so many varieties of reptiles.

"People move down here and don't know what they're looking at," he explains. "Most of the time, snakes are harmless, but people are terrified. They think every snake will kill them. There is really no extreme need to kill any snake."

Tetzlaff sees the FWC changes as a step in the right direction to ensure appropriate licensing and accountability.

"Unless you are a breeder, a serious collector or an institution such as ours, there is really no good reason to have these animals in your home or back yard," he says, adding that he has seen pet stores selling tortoise breeds that can grow up to 150 pounds.

"Then when people have these bulldozers going through their living room, they don't want them any more and they bring them to us," he says. "The stores need to be more responsible with what they are selling and the buyers need to be responsible to know what they are buying. In Collier County there are over 100 permits for exotic animals. That's scary."

Bell concurs, saying micro-chipping reptiles will allow FWC investigators to track escaped or abandoned animals back to their owners.

"Somebody could get in trouble, big time," he said.

At Shy Wolf Sanctuary, owner Nancy Smith has mixed emotions about government's efforts.

"It'll be a very sad day if they consider the wolf the same as a lion or tiger," she said of reclassification debates currently under way. "Wolves have the IQ of a 16-year-old human. It doesn't make sense. They're afraid people will breed wolf-dogs in their back yards."

But she is adamant the FWC should be stricter in other areas.

"I've never met a responsible breeder and the general public has proven they can't be trusted," she says. "In my opinion, it should be mandatory for all breeders to take back any animal that doesn't work out, whether it's a chihuahua, a sugar glider or a parakeet. Exotic animals are a $34 billion industry nationwide each year; but it costs $137 billion to clean up the mess they make."

Acosta agreed, saying people might reconsider exotic pet ownership if they knew the cost, responsibility and work involved. "Having an animal is a 24/7 commitment," she said. "I haven't had a vacation in 32 years. I wish the penalties for possession by unqualified people were more severe."


For the cats,

Carole Baskin, CEO of Big Cat Rescue
an Educational Sanctuary home
to more than 100 big cats
12802 Easy Street Tampa, FL  33625
813.493.4564 fax 885.4457

http://www.BigCatRescue.org MakeADifference@BigCatRescue.org

Sign our petition here:

http://www.thepetitionsite.com/takeaction/344896451?ltl=1140270431

This message contains information from Big Cat Rescue that may be
confidential or privileged. The information contained herein is intended
only for the eyes of the individual or entity named above.  You are hereby
notified that any dissemination, distribution, disclosure, and/or copying of
the information contained in this communication is strictly prohibited. The
recipient should check this e-mail and any attachments for the presence of
viruses. Big Cat Rescue accepts no liability for any damage or loss caused
by any virus transmitted by this e-mail.