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ON: Reptile, amphibian enthusiasts slam

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Posted by: EricWI at Tue Mar 6 20:47:50 2012  [ Report Abuse ] [ Email Message ] [ Show All Posts by EricWI ]  

Reptile, amphibian enthusiasts slam draft bylaw

Council opts to reconsider exotic pet regulations

Windsor’s town council has shelved a proposed exotic pet bylaw that was met with opposition from concerned reptile lovers living in various parts of the province.

Council opted to defer approval of the draft bylaw after several reptile and amphibian enthusiasts spoke out against the “inhumane” nature of the developing legislation at a Feb. 28 public hearing in council chambers.

Speakers opposing the bylaw mainly took issue with a “destroy… on sight or after capture” clause, and a provision that would make it illegal to possess a snake with an adult length of two feet or more within the Town of Windsor.

Mike MacDonald, curator and co-owner of the Sackville-based Maritime Reptile Adventures, told council that most snakes that are kept as pets grow to exceed two feet in length.

“My problem with size restrictions is… that in order to restrict the size of a snake you essentially have to not take care of that snake properly,” he said.

MacDonald asked council to consider prohibiting certain species of snakes instead of imposing size limitations that could lead to pets being malnourished.

As it stands, the developing bylaw would prohibit all venomous snakes, arachnids, reptiles and snakes that exceed two feet in length. The regulations state that a prohibited animal found within the town can be “destroyed on sight or after capture” without notice.

MacDonald said Maritime Reptile Adventures is willing to be on call 24/7 to collect prohibited animals found within Windsor if it means the animals will escape the death penalty. The organization has been granted sanctuary status from the Department of Natural Resources, making it legal for Maritime Reptiles Adventures to provide shelter for unwanted or illegal animals, he added.

“Our rescue services are free of charge,” MacDonald said.

David Toogood, of the Liverpool-based Nova Scotia Herpetoculture Society, argued that it is more likely for a person to be bitten by a dog or cat than a snake. He said most snakes are docile in nature.

“Reptiles truly can be great pets to a lot of people,” he said.

“Please do not allow people’s misconceptions, superstitions [and] unrealistic fears to ban residents from keeping these truly fascinating…pets.”

Toogood, a paramedic with 13 years of service, said it is best for first responders to move reptiles and amphibians in their enclosures. If this is not possible, and the snake must be captured, he recommended donning elbow-length leather gloves and a long jacket before attempting to handle a snake.

“Please do not allow people’s misconceptions, superstitions [and] unrealistic fears to ban residents from keeping these truly fascinating…pets.” - David Toogood
He too was opposed to the bylaw’s destroy-on-sight provision.

“This section does not specify that the animal must first pose a threat,” Toogood said.

“I feel that destroying any animal on sight that’s not posing a threat is inhumane.”

He asked that the legislation be amended to include humane euthanasia by a certified veterinarian as a possible outcome if it is absolutely necessary for the prohibited pets to be killed. He said he would rather see the animals turned over to the care of Maritime Reptile Adventures or the Safe Haven Society.

Two members of the Safe Haven Society also spoke against the bylaw, and one offered to provide free training for first responders interested in learning how to properly handle reptiles.

The regional emergency management co-ordinator for Hants County, Albert Bahri, said snakes are only an issue when they are permitted to roam free. He said it is difficult to see a snake in a smoke-filled building, which firefighters often navigate through by crawling on the floor.

“If snakes are in proper enclosures, it’s not an issue.”

In his 29 years as a first responder, Bahri — a paramedic and firefighter — said he has had one boa constrictor wrap itself around his leg while he was on the job.

Fire Chief Scott Burgess said a well-crafted bylaw would limit his members’ exposure “to a perceived risk.”

“This bylaw, in my mind, is prevention.”

Burgess said he has no way of knowing if an exotic pet is in a residence when his members are responding to a call.

“I’m open to maybe taking some orientation,” he said. “It’s just something that we don’t have a resource for.”

Council unanimously agreed to send the bylaw back to staff for revisions based on the input provided, and a comparative analysis of other exotic pet bylaws that have been enacted in the province.,-amphibian-enthusiasts-slam-draft-bylaw/1


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