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B.C: Couple suing 'for justice'

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Posted by: EricWI at Thu Nov 24 17:08:21 2011  [ Report Abuse ] [ Email Message ] [ Show All Posts by EricWI ]  
   

Jozef and Bibiana Demcak, here with python 'Baby,' plan to fight new legislation.

For more than 30 years, Jozef Demcak toured B.C. with his six pythons and a lizard named Monster.

Now the stars of their travelling road show are behind closed doors and darkened windows while he and his wife Bibiana, 37, are left without a means of income because of a law on exotic pet ownership that came into effect last year.

"It's ruining people's lives," said Jozef Demcak, 70. "We are in a terrible situation. But we are hoping for justice."

Demcak has obtained permits to keep the reptiles, which are now housed in a room at Cinema Zoo in Surrey, but he is not allowed to display or show them to the public.

The ban against displaying the animals is not in the legislation, Demcak points out.

"It was fabricated by the director of wildlife. The prohibition on display was expressly refused to be put in the act."

Relying on their savings and donations, the couple is mounting a legal challenge against the regulations. The case goes before the B.C. Supreme Court in New Westminster on Monday. Supporters plan to rally outside the courthouse at 10 a.m.

"I would like to continue doing something I've been doing for 35 years safely," said Demcak, adding he is also against the ministry's position of putting down confiscated animals.

"I was going out to schools, exhibitions to teach exactly what the government wants. I teach that people shouldn't have big major animals at home."

Another reptile caretaker, Mike Hopcraft, said he had to shut down his reptile-rescue operation in February because he couldn't afford to keep it running without donations from private tours and educational seminars.

He tried to comply with regulations, renting a warehouse space in Abbotsford to get accreditation with the Canadian Association of Zoos and Aquariums (CAZA).

"They needed water fountains, canteens, adequate parking," he said of CAZA's requirements. "Those don't apply to small rescue operations like mine. It'll cost tens of thousands to get everything up to standard."

Most of Hopcraft's menagerie of about 100 exotic animals went to Ontario. Some went to the Greater Vancouver Zoo.

A spokeswoman for the Forest Ministry said regulations give the director of wildlife the power to apply terms and conditions to permits.

"In this case, he sees fit, in the interest of public safety [not to allow displays,]" she said.

Out of 35 possession permits issued since 2010, none allowed for the display of the animals in public.
www.theprovince.com/technology/Couple suing justice/5753578/story.html#ixzz1eeMyp1f9


   

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