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"We're not giving them back"

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Posted by: EricWI at Wed Sep 7 20:14:04 2011  [ Report Abuse ] [ Email Message ] [ Show All Posts by EricWI ]  
   

This is a prime example of outright governmental theft and corruption. No one's animals are safe...

Taken were two 6-foot red tail boa constrictors, two 8-foot carpet pythons and three ball pythons.

and

A Longview exotic animals ordinance requires owners of snakes capable of growing as long as 10 feet or more to register them with the Humane Society

and

There's no indication the snake was ever outside the residence, but Nicholson seized it anyway


Humane Society's snake roundup continues; seven more seized

Read more: http://tdn.com/news/local/article_e4b43002-d90a-11e0-b207-001cc4c002e0.html#ixzz1XJoZzU1N

By Tuesday, the Cowlitz County Humane Society, usually home to fuzzy cats and dogs, was virtually overrun with scaly, slithering snakes.

There are nine of them in all, curled up in plastic and glass enclosures, some of which have been quickly assembled by the facility's maintenance man.

"We've got too many," said Mike Nicholson, the Humane Society's animal control supervisor. "We're not set up for this many snakes."

Nicholson seized seven of the snakes Tuesday because, he said, their owner didn't have permits for them. Taken were two 6-foot red tail boa constrictors, two 8-foot carpet pythons and three ball pythons.

"It was like a full-on raid," said the snakes' owner, Robert Winningham, 33, of Longview. "It's pretty frustrating."

It was the second day in a row that Nicholson impounded snakes kept by Longview residents. On Monday, Nicholson seized a 7-foot albino red-tailed boa constrictor as well as a 6-foot red-tailed boa from an apartment at 33rd Avenue and Dorothy Street.

Throughout the year, Nicholson has found himself facing an increasing number of stray and illegal snakes, most of them owned by people living in Longview's Highlands neighborhood. Earlier this year he seized a rattlesnake as well as an anaconda.

On Monday, one of the big snakes, which are intimidating but not venomous, escaped and struck at Nicholson as he tried to move it.

"I hate them," Nicholson said. "I don't even like being around them."

A Longview exotic animals ordinance requires owners of snakes capable of growing as long as 10 feet or more to register them with the Humane Society, Nicholson said. He said he's finding so many unregistered snakes that he's decided to start confiscating them.

The Humane Society already has more tips about illegal snakes and plans to seize more, he said.

"We're not giving them back," Nicholson said, adding that large snakes can pose a public safety risk.

He said he has been giving the snakes to professional reptile handlers, but he isn't sure what the Humane Society will do with the nine currently in its care.

"I'm not sure if we'll send them off with some licensed person or put them down," Nicholson said.

The snakes' owners, largely men in their 20s and 30s, are ordering the animals online, Nicholson said. He said he hasn't figured out what's driving the trend.

"It's a hobby that kind of increases over time," said Winningham, who owned the seven snakes seized Tuesday. "You get more and more into it."

Winningham, who lives in the 200 block of 22nd Avenue, said he had been providing his carpet pythons to a photographer friend who had been draping them over nude female models.

He said he has owned as many as 38 snakes at one time. Following Tuesday's seizures, Winningham said he now has about 11 smaller snakes, none of which were big enough to violate the city's ordnance.

What's most frustrating, Winningham said, is that he was trying to follow the law. He said he spoke with Nicholson months ago about what kind of snakes he should own and never realized he had to register them. He also said he called the Humane Society this week after one of his snakes, 4-foot ball python, escaped its enclosure. He said he simply wanted to be conscientious and alert authorities. But that call led the Humane Society to take seven of his snakes, he said.

The python was found Tuesday, a few days after being reported missing, in the room where it was kept. There's no indication the snake was ever outside the residence, but Nicholson seized it anyway, Winningham said.

Matt Bennett, the manager of Pet Works in downtown Longview, said his store sells mostly smaller corn snakes, milk snakes and ball pythons. The store, at 1257 Commerce Ave, sometimes sells red tail boas that can reach 9 feet, Bennett said.

Bennett said he wasn't aware of the Longview ordinance requiring snakes of 10 feet or more to be registered. Still, he said the city should consider banning snakes that grow to about that size.

"People don't think when it comes to purchasing something like that - when somebody gets something that's going to get big enough to kill them," Bennett said. "I would say probably over the 10-foot mark you'd probably be looking at some trouble if it ever gets out."
tdn.com/news/local/article_e4b43002-d90a-11e0-b207-001cc4c002e0.html


   

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