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KY Press: Snake ban upheld Monday

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Posted by W von Papinešu on October 18, 2002 at 18:50:53:

BOWLING GREEN NEWS (Bowling Green State University, Kentucky) 15 October 02 Snake ban upheld Monday (Chuck Soder)
Since the city won't let Dr. Ilene Underwood and Nikki Badman bring their pets home, they might move their homes somewhere else.
Underwood and Badman decided to look for housing elsewhere after Bowling Green City Council decided last week to keep the city-wide ban on constrictor snakes.
Underwood owned several constrictors as pets in 1997 when she founded the Herpetarium -- the one place in Bowling Green where constrictors are legal. Hoping to take their snakes beyond the Life Sciences Building, Underwood and several other constrictor owners began debating the issue with city council in the spring.
But seeing no results seven months later, those at the Herpetarium are giving up, she said.
"At this point, I'm simply tired," Underwood said. "It's easier to move than to fight city hall."
Badman, an animal technologist for the University, might move to Perrysburg where the law permits her pets.
"If I can't even bring my pets home, why would I want to stay here," she said.
Constrictors are outlawed under the city's dangerous animal ordinance. But the law bans even the smallest constrictors, which are no more harmful than dogs and cats, Badman said.
"Their arguments would be fine if they outlawed every pet in town," Badman said.
"A 24-inch-long Rosy Boa isn't dangerous," Underwood said. "It's bite hurts less than a dog's."
But small snakes -- even non-venomous ones -- pose more problems than everyday pets, according to Sarah Tomashefski, Ward 1 representative and member of the committee that decided to keep the law.
Tomashefski cited a New York Times article about recent salmonella infections through constrictors. "It's an issue that's really on the rise," she said.
But snakes -- small ones in particular -- can squeeze into tight spaces, making them harder to catch than dogs and cats, Tomashefski said.
"A snake can get into your heating system or vents," she said. And if you can't catch an animal, it poses more of a threat, according to Anesa Miller of the Wood County Humane Society, who supported the council's decision.
Snakes and other pets are often abandoned in Bowling Green, which magnifies the problems caused by the fact that they're hard to catch, Miller said.
"Bowling Green already has a problem with abandonment because people move so often," she said.
And if escaped snakes were caught, there would be little room for them at the Humane Society, according to Miller. "But we wouldn't refuse them."
Miller added that not everyone is a snake expert.
"I feel bad -- I'm sure they know how to handle snakes at the Herpetarium," she said. "But many people who like the idea of owning one aren't fully prepared."
Though Badman doesn't agree with the law, she knows some people wouldn't make good constrictor owners.
"I agree with that," she said. "But they can't guarantee the welfare of any animal in this town."
Ironically, two of the few Bowling Green residents who do know how to care for constrictors -- Underwood and Badman -- are about to leave town. But both will still be active on campus and at the Herpetarium.
"I'll still be involved with BGSU," Badman said. "I just don't want anything to do with the city."

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