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Posted by desiree on February 01, 2003 at 10:59:25:
Murrieta's council will discuss draft ordinance Tuesday
By ROCKY SALMON
MURRIETA - City officials are considering rattling the cages of snake owners.
A proposal to constrict the number and size of the reptiles is slithering its way to the City Council's meeting Tuesday. Proponents say the ordinance would prevent serpents from getting loose and harming the public.
Opponents say city officials are putting a stranglehold on their personal freedom and are targeting snake lovers.
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Douglas Quan/The Press-Enterprise.
Bob Matson and Roxanne Weins hold a 7-foot, 65-pound Colombia redtail boa from MATCO Pet Center in Temecula. The snake would be illegal in Murrieta without a permit if the City Council approves a reptile ordinance restricting the size, number and types of snakes allowed.
"There are going to be a lot of disappointed snake owners," said Roxanne Weins, an employee at a Temecula pet store that specializes in reptiles. "They might not be dogs, cats, or fish, but they are our pets."
The City Council will discuss the proposal and vote on whether to put the item on a future agenda for consideration or drop it altogether.
Councilman Warnie Enochs brought the item to the City Council's attention after receiving a number of phone calls from concerned residents who live near a home with several large snakes.
"We had some people calling about safety concerns with snakes," Enochs said. "I wanted to see if there really are safety issues and find out how the rest of the council feels about it."
City officials hired a retired San Diego Zoo keeper to draw up a proposal that would restrict the size, number and types of snakes allowed. San Diego County is the nearest local government with similar regulations, according to the Animal Protection Institute.
The current proposal states that an owner may not have an exotic snake more than 5 feet in length. No one can possess any venomous snake within city limits. And only a certain number of snakes will be allowed per household. That number has not been set.
Anyone wishing to own a snake with exceptions to the above guidelines would have to go before the City Council to get a permit. Violation of the ordinance would result in a $500 fine or up to 10 days in jail.
Snake owners said officials are overreacting and argued that placing a length limit on a snake is impossible. Weins said most snakes will grow longer than 5 feet.
"I can understand someone being afraid of snakes running loose," said Corey Wells, who owns seven snakes. "But people who own larger snakes know how to care for them. Most of the snakes live and eat better than their owners do."
The City Council meets Tuesday 7 p.m. at City Hall, 26442 Beckman Court.
Reach Rocky Salmon at (909) 587-3139 or firstname.lastname@example.org
• No exotic reptile more than 5 feet long.
• Limited number of snakes per household.
• No private ownership of venomous reptiles.
• City permits required for exceptions to the guidelines.
• Violations may result in $500 fine or up to 10 days in jail