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Posted by Wes von Papinešu on November 27, 1999 at 18:57:57:
LOS ANGELES TIMES (California) 25 November 99 Snake Problem Continues to Keep City Council in Its Grip (Sue Fox)
West Hills: Two years after a 9-foot pet boa constrictor slipped out of its West Hills home and ate a neighbor's beloved Chihuahua, the City Council is still wrestling with the problem of runaway snakes.
A firm resolution slithered out of reach Wednesday, when the lawmakers voted to send the matter back to the Public Safety Committee for further review. After a wave of anti-snake fervor following the August 1997 incident, the city's Animal Services Department determined that the dog's death was "an isolated and unusual event" and advised against banning snakes as pets.
But northwest Valley Councilman Hal Bernson was not satisfied.
"I think that we ought to take another look at this," he told his colleagues. "I would like to see, at least, a notification of people who live adjacent to people who have these types of pets."
The West Hills case made national news when Jackie Torgerson, bereaved owner of Babette the longhaired Chihuahua, faced off with neighbor Angus Johnson, owner of pet snake Alissss, on the television show "The People's Court." On a segment called "I Can't Believe She Ate the Whole Thing," former New York Mayor Ed Koch settled the dispute by awarding Torgerson $1,500, the monetary value of the dog.
This week's council discussion did not mention Babette, Alissss or Koch. Instead, Councilwoman Cindy Miscikowski, who chairs the Public Safety Committee, agreed to review the issue, adding that animal regulation officials also wanted to take a second look.
The city now requires snake owners to obtain a permit. According to a council report, the Animal Services Department lacks the money and staff to properly enforce this rule and favors "additional public education, not prohibition, as the proper response to the fear some members of the public feel toward snakes and other reptiles."