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Proposed Oshawa pets bylaw

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Posted by: EricWI at Wed Dec 12 12:23:21 2012  [ Report Abuse ] [ Email Message ] [ Show All Posts by EricWI ]  
   

Proposed Oshawa pets bylaw allows tarantulas, boas, pythons
Hedgehogs and large lizards would be banned


OSHAWA -- Sugar gliders, boas and tarantulas are in, but hedgehogs are out in a new exotic pets bylaw proposed for Oshawa.

The responsible pet owners bylaw includes a list of animals Oshawa residents are prohibited from owning as pets. A new exotic pets bylaw has been under debate for four years and at the Dec. 6 corporate services committee meeting, councillors considered an expert-reviewed list of prohibited animals.

With the new list, Oshawa residents would be able to own small marsupials called sugar gliders, tarantulas and any non-venomous snake under an adult length of three metres, which removes the current ban on constrictors such as boas and pythons.

Non-venomous lizards will now be capped at a length of two metres.

Tarantulas are now allowed, but all other spiders and scorpions are still banned. Hedgehogs have been added to the banned list as well. Animals commonly banned in most municipalities would continue to be banned, including exotics like monkeys and farm animals including chickens and all pigs.

The list was reviewed by a Toronto Zoo veterinarian, a pet industry expert and Rob Laidlaw, executive director of Zoocheck, an animal protection organization.

Many of the questions to Mr. Laidlaw centred around hedgehogs, which are currently allowed in Oshawa.

Mr. Laidlaw said there is a disease risk with wild-caught hedgehogs and some municipalities only allow captive-bred hedgehogs like the African pygmy breed. But determining if an animal has been captive-bred or not is difficult for bylaw officers.

As well, he said, the animals are nocturnal, require special care and animals shelters aren't set up to deal with them if people don't want hedgehogs. Some municipalities allow them and some don't.

"Personally I don't like to see an expansion of the pet trade into these kinds of animals ... there are lots of choices out there, if I were making the rules, I would not permit hedgehogs."

Councillors also discussed grandfathering large lizards for residents who already own them. Staff was asked to present options at the Dec. 17 council meeting.

"We don't know how many of these animals exist in the community, how many exceed the length," said Jerry Conlin, Oshawa's director of municipal law enforcement.

Oshawa pet store owner Debbie Grills generally spoke in favour of the new bylaw but spoke against banning hedgehogs. She also said people who already have lizards that exceed the bylaw standard, such as male green iguanas or monitors, should be allowed to keep them.

Ms. Grills doesn't believe there are more than 10 such large lizards in the city, but said many more people would be impacted by a hedgehog ban. She sells about 20 of the latter per year at $189.99 each and there's usually a waiting list for them.

She recently sold one to an 11-year-old girl.

"She has got that hedgehog now that when this (bylaw) passes she's going to be told you've got 30 days to get rid of it or you're going to be charged,"

Earlier this year, Ms. Grills was fined more than $80,000 after the City raided her home and charged her with possessing prohibited animals including 118 snakes, 194 tarantulas and 11 sugar gliders.

The fine was later reduced to $16,200 by the City's hearings officer.

"Everything we got charged for would be allowed with the exception of the reticulated python and the Burmese python which we weren't asking to sell," said Ms. Grills.

She was ordered to surrender the animals to a Peterborough reptile zoo but instead sent them to a safehouse outside of the City. Ms. Grills said she plans to bring them back once the bylaw passes.

But Mr. Conlin said the order to surrender the animals still applies because it was given under the bylaw that existed at the time of the infractions.

He also cautioned against having the animals in her home.

"I guess I wouldn't be recommending she bring them home ... they should be within her commercial premises if she's selling them."

Council will consider the proposed bylaw on Dec. 17.
www.durhamregion.com/news/article/1552026--proposed-oshawa-pets-bylaw-allows-tarantulas-boas-pythons


   

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