County considers ‘dangerous’ animal rules

County considers ‘dangerous’ animal rules

By Caleb Chapman
The Daily Times

Published January 28, 2009

A week after a pet tiger escaped from its cage in Ingram, Kerr County Commissioners discussed a review and possible revision of county regulations regarding “dangerous wild animals.”

“It’s no secret that we had a big cat get out of her cage,” said Commissioner Bruce Oehler. “I think it’s time to review what the court adopted in 2001.”

Oehler said he actually would like to see an outright ban on certain dangerous and exotic animals, grandfathering those already living here.

“If we ban more coming here in the future, we’ll be doing ourselves a favor,” he said.

Ingram resident Mildred Crenshaw, who discovered the tiger in her back yard in the early morning hours of Jan. 18, supported the idea.

“It’s ridiculous to have an animal like that in a populated area,” she told commissioners. “If the officers had not gotten there when they did, the animal could have been in Ingram just as easily as it was in my back yard.”

Currently, it is legal to own a “dangerous wild animal” in unincorporated areas of the county as long as the animal is registered. The order passed by commissioners in 2001 requires the registration of 20 animals types, which include big cats such as tigers, lions, cougars, leopards, cheetahs and bobcats.

The tiger’s owner, Anke Leitner, addressed the commissioners Monday and said they still are trying to determine how the animal got out if its enclosure and are working diligently to correct the problem.

“We are working day and night to build a new enclosure for the animal,” she said. “We have had crews working out there all week to make sure we meet caging requirements.”

State law requires “dangerous wild animals” to have a primary enclosure, such as a cage or pen, as well as perimeter fencing around the cage that restricts public access.

“We are now required by the state to inspect these types of enclosures annually,” said Kerr County Animal Control director Janie Roman. “We are going to go beyond that and inspect them every other month.”

Oehler said he would like to see the court revisit the county’s animal rules in “the very near future.”

“The good thing that will come out of this is better regulations and regular inspections,” he said.

“I’m terribly sorry that she (the tiger) did get out. It was a freak accident,” Leitner said. “We are making sure that everyone will be safe in the future.”

Send a letter to the Commissioners here telling them that a ban is the only way to end the abuse.

Carole’s Letter to the Kerr County Commissioners:

A big cat ban is what is needed and is proven to be the only measure that works.

The following link is to a partial listing (577) of incidents in the U.S. involving captive exotic cats since 1990. The U.S. incidents have resulted in the deaths of 21 humans, 16 adults and 5 children, the additional mauling of 190 more adults and children, 168 escapes, the killing of 92 big cats, and 121 confiscations.

At that link you can download an Excel sheet of incidents by state and on some of the worst states, like FL, TX, CA and others, you can find charts that show how the number of escapes, maulings and killings only decreases when states ban the practice of allowing dangerous wild animals to be kept in private hands.

There is no place for existing animals to go, but you can greatly reduce problems in the future by not allowing existing owners to buy, breed, trade or acquire more wild animals and by not allowing public contact with the animals. Most people only get them to show off how they can pet a big cat, or to sell the opportunity to do so. If they can’t make money or get recognition for it, they won’t do it.

Let me know if there is any way I can help your county draft some no-nonsense rules. I have several other state’s bills and laws that I could submit for your review.

P.S. I was born in San Antonio, TX


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