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OH: Exotic pet owners have city rules to

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Posted by: EricWI at Tue Apr 10 10:04:06 2012  [ Report Abuse ] [ Email Message ] [ Show All Posts by EricWI ]  
   

Exotic pet owners have city rules to obey

COLUMBUS — Lions and tigers and bears — oh no. They’re not allowed in the city.

Other exotic animals are, however, if owners follow the rules.

A dozen Columbus residents currently hold exotic animal permits for species ranging from parrots and macaws to bearded dragons, snakes and chinchillas.

While Lead Animal Control Officer Donna Winig says there have been no issues with the current owners of these unusual critters, that hasn’t always been the case.

Columbus City Council adopted the ordinance pertaining to exotic animals in 1997 after a local resident began harboring a Canada lynx.

“It got loose and there were some issues,” Winig said of the large cat.

Current city code describes an exotic animal as “incapable of being completely domesticated,” but exactly what species fall into this category is up for interpretation.

“What we have is a list of animals that don’t require a permit,” said Winig.

However, an animal’s exclusion from that list doesn’t necessarily mean its owner must acquire a permit. That determination is made by the city’s animal control officers.

Winig said the city doesn’t have a specific list of exotic animals because as soon as one is developed “somebody’s going to come up with something that we didn’t put on it.”

There are some general guidelines, though.

According to Winig, there would be some “reservations” about residents owning monkeys, and large, dangerous animals such as alligators, tigers and bears won’t be approved.

“Those just aren’t going to be coming into Columbus,” she said.

Animals like parakeets, canaries, gerbils, ferrets and domesticated dogs and cats don’t require an exotic permit.

Residents even can have potbelly pigs, goats, horses and fowl without a permit, although the number allowed is limited.

The exotic animal permit comes into play on those species that land somewhere between an outright ban and specific allowance. Spiders, scorpions, piranhas, wolves, bees and deer are examples.

Winig said the permit helps ensure the community and animal remain safe.

“We’re looking out for everybody,” she said.

Before an exotic animal permit is considered for approval, the residence must pass an inspection, and the owner is required to inform everyone living within 300 feet of the property about the animal, which must be looked over by a veterinarian. There also is a $20 annual fee plus about $25-30 in one-time administrative costs.

Animal control then makes a recommendation to a review committee consisting of the police chief and city administrator, who make the final determination following a public hearing.

Winig said it’s “very rare” for a permit to be denied following this process.

Exotic animal permits must be renewed annually, which involves another inspection, and the whole process is conducted again if the owner moves.

The residence of an exotic pet owner also can be inspected by animal control officers without notice between 7 a.m. and 9 p.m. on any day, and no household can have more than two of the animals.

Winig said anyone who has an animal that may be classified as exotic should call animal control.

“We’re not going to go in there and snatch their critters away,” she said.

After all, the best part of the permitting process for the animal control officer is seeing the unique pets.

“They’re just interesting creatures that people get attached to, just like we get attached to our dogs and cats,” Winig said.
http://columbustelegram.com/news/local/exotic-pet-owners-have-city-rules-to-obey/article_d993b3a6-8124-11e1-ac1e-0019bb2963f4.html


   

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