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OH Press:Fostoria tightens rules for keeping exotic pets

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Posted by desiree on November 08, 2002 at 09:48:30:

Article published Friday, November 8, 2002
Fostoria tightens rules for keeping exotic pets


FOSTORIA - Owners of exotic animals face more stringent regulations under an ordinance passed by Fostoria City Council.

The measure, approved 7-0 at Wednesday nightís meeting, requires owners of nondomestic animals to register annually with the city, pay a one-time $25 registration fee, and post a window sign letting people know about their pet. Owners also must have a city inspection of the petís home.

Violations are a first-degree misdemeanor, punishable by up to six months in jail and a $1,000 fine.

The ordinance defines "wild or exotic animals" as nondomesticated cats and dogs; nonhuman primates (except for monkeys); poisonous stinging insects, spiders, and scorpions; any reptile longer than two feet; and bears, kangaroos, and eagles.

Safety-service Director Ralph Wise said the city should have the program in place before the end of this month. He acknowledged that officials will rely on the owners of exotic animals to notify the city about their pets.

"We donít have the manpower to do a door-to-door check, but we kind of assume the people keeping these kinds of exotic animals will come forward and let us know where they are," he said.

Mayor John Davoli said the ordinance could help the city avoid a repeat of incidents such as the escape of a seven-foot boa constrictor in September.

"The majority of exotic pet owners, they take excellent care of their pets," he said. "Itís just a few people that donít know how to handle an exotic pet, that donít take care of them, that cause problems for other people."

But the owner of a local pet store said the regulations could cause problems for his business by discouraging customers from buying snakes, lizards, and scorpions.

"Itíll probably take a couple hundred dollars a week out of our store," said Mark Rochester, co-owner of Champion Pools & Pets.

The shop on Tiffin Street sells ball pythons, king snakes, and milk snakes, which average four to six feet in length when fully grown. "None of the snakes will hurt you," Mr. Rochester said. "Theyíre not big enough."

Mr. Rochester said lizards are popular, especially iguanas. In a typical week, the store sells six to eight of the tropical American lizards. The store also sells tarantulas and scorpions.

In his mind, the city overreacted to the snake escape.

"Thereís a lot of snakes, a lot of exotic stuff in this town, but the stuff thatís here, I donít think any of itís deadly," he said. "A tarantula bite is not even as bad as a bee sting. A scorpion sting is the same as a bee sting."

Cindy Might, owner of Mightís Animal House Pet Shop, thinks the city missed the mark.

"I donít know what a permit is going to do," she said. "That has nothing to do with taking care of the pet."

Mr. Wise said the city isnít trying to dissuade people from buying snakes or lizards.

"I donít think the goal was to hurt a local business in town," he said. "I think the goal was for neighbors to be aware when thereís a dangerous or exotic animal nearby."

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