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Posted by W von Papinešu on February 13, 2003 at 11:49:59:
OAKLAND TRIBUNE (California) 13 February 03 Police decide to let sleeping snake lie (Kim Santos)
Dublin: Shut away inside the morgue at East County Animal Shelter, the cobra lurked.
Perhaps it was angry. Perhaps it was hibernating. Perhaps it was taking special joy in keeping animal handlers at bay.
Or perhaps it was happily slithering among the euthanized strays stored in the refrigerated room, wondering whether it had stumbled upon the largest all-you-can-eat buffet ever.
Dublin police first heard about the cobra Tuesday afternoon, when a call came in from Animal Control officers: Could the police bring a shotgun to dispatch the loose reptile?
"I thought to myself, 'Wait a minute, I'm a police officer. What are we doing with a cobra?'" Dublin police Sgt. Steve Brown said.
Contemplating the situation, Brown decided discharging a firearm inside a building was perhaps not the smartest idea -- especially because of the possibility of the bullets ricocheting off metal in the room.
So he grabbed some bean-bags ammunition mustered up a little courage and headed to the shelter on Gleason Road.
There, he encountered police brass, who were unsure of what to do about the "very, very poisonous" pest.
Brown had hoped to stun the 41/2-foot snake with the bean bags and grab it with a hook, but the number of items in the room foiled his plan.
Instead, he began calling around for antitoxin, "just in case."
"The closest I could find was in Colorado," he said, noting that this particular cobra was of the nonspitting variety. "We decided we were just not going to mess with it."
Police interviewed the Livermore resident who brought the snake to the shelter along with another cobra and a rattlesnake, Brown said.
The resident claimed his neighbor was importing the reptiles from Southern Florida, and that he confiscated a few specimens because he felt "it wasn't right."
Brown said the man's name will be given to federal fish and game authorities, who will check out the claim.
The door to the animal morgue was promptly shut, trapping the reptile inside.
Brown never saw the creature, but said it was enough just knowing he had been in the same room with it.
He said he added the experience to his list of past encounters with animals, which include being run over by a deer and sprayed by a baby skunk that had its head caught in a milk crate.
In this latest case, a call was placed to a reptile expert, who estimated that the 38-degree room could cause the cobra to fall into hibernation within a few hours.
Separate arrangements were being made to pick the reptile up by handlers.
Cobras and other poisonous snakes are hot commodities on the black market, Brown said, and often are shipped via normal package delivery services, such as UPS.