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Bedford County Creates Task Force

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Posted by: EricWI at Wed Oct 19 19:43:12 2011  [ Report Abuse ] [ Email Message ] [ Show All Posts by EricWI ]  
   

Bedford County Creates Exotic Animals Task Force
SHELBYVILLE, Tenn- Officials in Shelbyville have been watching the frightening scene unfold in Ohio where more than 50 lions, leopards, tigers and bears escaped from a farm, keeping fearful residents indoors. It's another reminder to them how dangerous exotic animals can be.

It's what officials in Bedford County are trying to prevent through their new Exotic Animal Task Force that hopes to put together stricter laws for animals and owners in Bedford County after dealing with their own exotic animal crisis this summer.

Last August, Bedford County Deputy Ronnie Gault came face to face with a escaped Japanese Macaque monkey. He shot and killed the animal, but not before it violently attacked Gault and another Shelbyville resident.

"It basically got everybody's attention, it's like wow we didn't even know they were in Bedford County," said Brenda Goodrich with the Bedford Animal Control.

Four Macaque monkeys were being kept in backyard crates in a Shelbyville neighborhood. Under Tennessee state law, the monkey's owner didn't need any permits, registration or even property fencing.

"You don't know you have no idea what your neighbor might have, you may know, you may not. It may be in a cage in the bedroom," said Anita Epperson.

Epperson is part of the new Exotic Animal Task Force that combines leaders from the animal shelter, Sheriff's Department and Mayor's Office. They want to regulate any non-domestic animals that want to call Bedford County home, but also make tougher laws against the owner should their dangerous pets get loose and attack.

"It's horrible that somebody had to be bitten and a Sheriff's Deputy had his arm torn apart," said Goodrich. And what frustrates her is that right now in Tennessee it's easier to prosecute the owner of a vicious dog than the owner of a vicious macaque monkey, whose deadly bite could have killed two innocent people.

"It wasn't just a bite, Macaque monkeys carry Herpes B virus, and Herpes B is deadly to humans," said Goodrich.

There are laws in Tennessee regarding specific species, such as lions, tigers and chimpanzees, but the Macaque monkeys are not listed on the inherently dangerous list as well as thousands of other exotic pets that can be easily purchased with the click of a button online.

Bedford County Officials hope this new task force can come up with an ordinance to regulate all animals and their owners living in their jurisdiction.
www.newschannel5.com/story/15734891/bedford-county-creates-exotic-animals-task-force


   

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