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PA: Kennett Square muzzling pets that bi

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Posted by: EricWI at Tue Mar 13 14:40:51 2012  [ Report Abuse ] [ Email Message ] [ Show All Posts by EricWI ]  

Kennett Square muzzling pets that bite

KENNETT SQUARE — Pet dogs or cats that bite a person more than once are now banned in the borough.

That’s the consequence of a new ordinance Kennett Square officials passed last week banning exotic wildlife. The law takes effect immediately.
“This (new ordinance) is a direct correlation to an incident we had on State Street where someone got hurt,” said Borough Manager Brant Kucera. “Many people here live in close quarters.”
Late last year, a 21-year-old man was bitten on the hand by his rattlesnake at his apartment complex in the 100 block of West State Street. He was treated at Albert Einstein Medical Center where he eventually made a full recovery. When police arrived at his apartment, they found various exotic pets, including an alligator, two monitor lizards, eight snakes (four of which were venomous), and a 14-foot constricting python.

The ordinance puts an outright ban on more than 200 animals, including bats, scorpions, crocodilians, porcupines, raccoons, skunks, amphibious toads and frogs, venomous fish and lizards, venomous spiders, weasels, and constricting snakes.
Councilman Chip Plumley said he personally knows of people who own boa constrictors and live in the borough. He asked council whether they would have to get rid of them.
“We’re not going to go into people’s homes,” Kucera said. “But they are banned. All constricting snakes are banned. We have found constrictors in town, but they won’t survive the winter. I don’t know why anyone would own them, but now they are prohibited.”
Though council’s intent was to ban the dangerous exotic wildlife, the language of the ordinance is so strict that household pets could be banned if they attack people or other animals.
Specifically, the ordinance bans:
• Any animal that bites more than one person during the animal’s lifetime.
• Any animal that attacks any domestic animal or fowl without provocation and causes injury or death while off its owner’s property.
Ed Zunino, Kennett Square police chief, said he supports the new ordinance.
“If an animal bites a person even once, the owner needs to take action,” Zunino said. “If it happens again and the police department does nothing, we’re up for one heck of a lawsuit.”
Zunino said that if his department is called to a residence and it’s the second time an animal has bitten a human, the animal will be permanently removed.
The ordinance also bans the sale or adoption of exotic or wild animals. But traveling circuses that come to town may keep their animals in the borough legally because the ordinance provides an exemption. But Kucera told council that they should consider banning even this.
“I would like us at some point to consider banning circuses and carnival animals,” Kucera said. “Both those activities are cruel to animals.”
Some council members, though they voted for the exotic animal ban, felt the ordinance hampers the constitutional rights of borough citizens.
“I think this borders on the government meddling in people’s right to do their own thing,” said Councilman Daniel Maffei. “I feel the ordinance actually does border on doing that, but in the issue of public safety, I will support it.”
Said Councilman Leon Spencer: “We hear a lot of discussion about safety of human beings. This ordinance also addresses respect for the animal. We have an obligation as stewards of all living things to do that. I support the ordinance as much for the safety of people as for the respect for animals.”
The ordinance provides for a sliding fine of $600 and imprisonment of not more than 10 days for offenses.
Owning animals that should be in the wild is unacceptable because not only is it a risk to the owner, but a risk to borough residents,” said Kucera.


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