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OR Press: Keeping alligator costs $300


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Posted by W von Papinešu on January 23, 2003 at 12:25:37:

In Reply to: alligator banned in oregon posted by colby on January 23, 2003 at 00:43:12:

OREGONIAN (Portland, Oregon) 23 January 03 Keeping alligator costs $300 (Richard Colby)
Beaverton: A Beaverton Municipal Court judge fined a woman $300 Wednesday, finding that she had kept her son's pet alligator in their home after a city ordinance took effect banning alligators from the city.
But the woman's attorney, Geordie Duckler, said he would ask for a new trial in Washington County Circuit Court. He said he would appeal any conviction there to the Oregon Court of Appeals before his client, DeAnn Overfield, stops fighting to keep the reptile in her home on Southwest Marjorie Lane.
Overfield was mailed a citation Nov. 27 by a city nuisance officer who testified Wednesday he had seen the alligator in her home a day earlier.
The officer, George Fetzer, also testified that he had warned the defendant in a Nov. 15 certified letter that keeping the 5-year-old alligator named Al would violate the ordinance passed Oct. 21 by the City Council. The law took effect Nov. 22.
Violating the rule is a civil infraction allowing fines of $150 a day while violations occur.
Saying no one contested the accusation that the reptile had been in the home for at least five days after the ordinance took effect, Judge John T. Mercer levied fines for two of the days.
With little debate, a unanimous City Council approved the ordinance after Overfield's neighbors complained about the alligator. They petitioned the city to ban the reptiles.
Police found the alligator loose in a yard near Overfield's home on Aug. 24 and called in an animal handler. The handler later returned the animal to the woman and her family after they showed up to claim it.
In a council hearing before the vote, Overfield, her son and friends pleaded that the 5-foot alligator was not dangerous.
During Wednesday's hourlong trial, Mercer ruled against Duckler's motion to dismiss the citation. He rejected the lawyer's contention that the city had no authority from the state to ban alligators as "dangerous" animals. Mercer said the City Council had properly decided that alligators are dangerous simply by approving the ordinance's language.
After the trial, Duckler said the degree of danger would be the main issue he will raise in Circuit Court, which will schedule a new trial on the citation once it receives his filing request.
The lawyer said Oregon law is vague on which species of animals are dangerous and doesn't specifically put alligators in that category. "Cities love to overreach," Duckler said.
Bill Kirby, the assistant city attorney who prosecuted the citation, said state law authorizes cities to enact rules for public safety.
He said the nuisance officer had also fulfilled another key provision of the ordinance by notifying Overfield ahead of time that she would violate the law if she kept the alligator after the law took effect.
Overfield said she and her family gave the alligator to a friend outside the city after she received the citation.




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