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NY Press: Wild animal in the house? Pataki wants to know


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Posted by W von Papineäu on December 28, 2002 at 19:00:17:

DAILY NEWS (New York, NY) 26 December 02 Wild animal in the house? Pataki wants to know
Albany (AP): New Yorkers who keep wild animals at home must inform local officials about the creatures’ presence under a bill signed into law by Gov. George Pataki.
The measure is designed to give “first responders” such as firefighters, police officers and medical technicians advance knowledge of potentially harmful or deadly animals in local homes they may be called to in emergencies, said state Sen. William Stachowski, a Buffalo Democrat who sponsored the legislation.
Stachowski said the bill came following two incidents at Buffalo-area homes where authorities responding to emergencies were surprised to find venomous snakes. Authorities were not injured in either incident, he said.
“We are not against people having these (animals), if it’s something they can have. That’s their business,” Stachowski said. “But we want to make sure that the emergency people know about it.”
Under the legislation Pataki announced this week he has signed, town, city or village clerks have to be notified of the presence of potentially dangerous creatures such as wolves, wild cats, gorillas, venomous snakes or alligators or crocodiles longer than five feet.
People who fail to report the dangerous animals are subject to a $250 fine for a first offense and fines of up to $1,000 for subsequent violations.
The bill will take effect in four months, provided that the office of the state’s fire administrator can issue regulations by then spelling out the parameters of the new law.
Tom LaBelle, executive director of the state Association of Fire Chiefs, said the members of his group supported the new law.
“It is difficult enough with the constant changes to a situation during our standard emergencies,” he said Thursday. “Throw in some unique thing such as a Bengal tiger in the basement and it adds to the level of difficulty.”
He said fire companies typically carry “pre-plan books” in chiefs’ cars and engines that list special characteristics of houses and businesses that firefighters need to be aware of, such as oxygen tanks for medical purposes or lightweight structural construction.
“It doesn’t mean we say to the homeowners, ‘We’re not going to fight the fire because there’s a Bengal tiger in the basement,”’ LaBelle said. “But it lets us ask the right questions, such as, ‘Is the basement door locked?’ And, ‘Where is the basement door?”’
People wanting to possess wildlife need a permit from the state Department of Environmental Conservation. A spokesman for the agency said it does not issue such permits for people who want to keep wild animals as pets.



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