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Board of Supervisors temporarily revises wild animal ordinance

Posted on Thursday, February 25, 2016 at 9:42 am

Ringtailed_lemurs

At the Feb. 16 meeting the Board of Supervisors approved a temporary exception to the county ordinance that prohibits the keeping of dangerous, wild, exotic or vicious animals.

Two draft ordinances were prepared for the board. The first, by county attorney Ben Emerson, lists the types and weights of non-human primates that would be allowed. The owner would be responsible for obtaining certification from a veterinarian, and a court hearing would be necessary before an animal could be taken away from its owner.

The second draft from the sheriff’s office prohibits non-human primates brought into the county after Jun. 9, 2015. Within 90 days of the adoption of the ordinance, they should be registered with an

Animal Control Officer. It also requires extraction of their canine teeth, several permit fees, liability insurance and annual inspections.

Both drafts have been reviewed by a county attorney. Board member Nancy Long, proposed some corrections to the Sheriff’s ordinance, eliminating the surety bond and changing the liability insurance to $100,000, which matches the county’s dangerous dog policy. Primates should be no bigger than 25 pounds. The application fee would be $150, but a single application could cover multiple animals.

Dr. Belinda Hays, whose primates were found by officers of the law when her alarm went off by accident in October, attended and spoke at the public hearing.

“I have an issue with removing their canines,” Hays said. “My primates have never gotten loose and never bitten anybody. I have lemurs that are 15 and 17 years old. Their teeth are very thin, and if I remove their canines, that is going to really impede their eating.”

Long did agree there could be health consequences when an older animal’s canine teeth are removed.

Supervisor Jeff Black referred to the April 2015 case presented before the Board, when a woman who owned mountain lions, tigers and primates was told that she had to get rid of all her wild animals, including the primates.

“We are going to say you can have [primates] now,” Black said, “but the lady before could not?”

Hays has lived in Caroline county with her animals since 1993. The adoption of this ordinance allows her to stay and keep her current primates, as long as she does not get any new ones, and follows all regulations. This also applies to other residents who already had primates before June 9, 2015.

Sheriff Tony Lippa expressed concern that people may find this out, come to the county and say they have had them all along. Supervisor Jeff Sili responded that extensive checks would be in place, including proof of residence and veterinary records.

Supervisor Long’s revised version of the Sheriff’s ordinance was adopted by the Board. However, they are allowed to advertise additional changes at any point.

By Bridget Douglas / CP Reporter