Owner of wild cats receives extension

Owner of wild cats receives extension

By Jeff Pope

Wed, Dec 24, 2008 (11:35 a.m.)

Man to surrender exotic animal license after panther attack (10-23-

A Lone Mountain man may be able to keep his wild cats for at least
another six months.

County commissioners reversed an earlier agreement with Andy Kay to
have him surrender his exotic animal permit on Dec. 17 and instead on
that day agreed to allow him to keep two exotic animals on his
property as long as he upgrades security there and receives no
violations from Animal Control.

During an October meeting, commissioners said Kay's once sparsely
populated, rural neighborhood is now too urban for wild animals to be
housed there. But on Dec. 17 commissioners said they changed their
minds, saying Kay has met enough of the required upgrades to give him
more time to be in full compliance with county codes.

Commissioners gave Kay six months to complete security upgrades. If
he completes them in time, Kay can keep his permit for two exotic
animals until July 2010, when the permit comes up for review again.
It wasn't clear if Kay intends to keep exotic animals beyond 2010.

Kay, who lives near Ann Road and Riley Street, has been rescuing
animals for the federal government and has kept some, including
panthers and leopards, on his property. He said he considers it his
passion and does it as a service to save the animals.

Kay was before the commission on Dec. 17 to ask for more time to move
the animals to his property in Washoe County.

Washoe has not approved a permit yet and Russell Skuse, who
represented Kay at the meeting, said the single-digit temperatures
upstate were adverse to the cats' health. Skuse asked for an
extension to the spring so the cages could be properly outfitted.

"We want to make it right. We want to make sure everything is in its
place, but we feel like we haven't been given that opportunity," he

He currently has two African Servals ­— spotted felines that can grow
up to 2 feet tall and weigh up to 55 pounds.

An exotic animal is defined as any non-domesticated wildlife.

The commission considered revoking his exotic animals permit in
October after numerous complaints from neighbors and Animal Control,
leading to the agreement then that Kay surrender the license Dec. 17.

Many in the area believed one of Kay's black panthers escaped and was
responsible for an attack on a puppy in the neighborhood in March —
an incident in which responding police shot at but missed a panther
running loose.

Kay said he had two panthers at the time, but they were both locked
up securely.

Commissioners said they weren't convinced the panther that attacked
the dog belonged to Kay and several congratulated him for his rescue

The March attack did call attention to the safety of neighbors and to
students at Dean Allen Elementary School located about 100 yards from
Kay's home.

Neither the school nor the houses were around Kay when he started
rescuing wild animals 11 years ago, Commissioner Chris Giunchigliani

"I believe this is one of those situations where they were properly
permitted and we, along with the city, allowed zoning and
encroachment to come into play, which then puts them in an awkward
position," she said.

Giunchigliani also criticized Animal Control for levying violations
on Kay based on a proposed exotic animal ordinance that the
Commission has not adopted.

Kay will have to improve security on his property.

He will have to place GPS locator collars on the cats, provide Animal
Control with photos and identity information and provide emergency
contact information on a sign on the property in the event of an
incident. Kay will be responsible for notifying the school and police
if an animal escapes. He cannot advertise what animals are kept on
the premises.

Kay has six months to complete as many of the provisions as possible.

The board allowed Kay to keep his permit with the new provisions by a
6-0 vote. Commissioner Rory Reid was absent.

Kay told the commissioners he has no problem with the provisions and
already replaced a warped fence with 9-gauge chain-link fencing and
is in the process of obtaining a permit for an 8-foot-tall block wall.

Commissioner Susan Brager, who has three grandsons who live in the
neighborhood, worries more about the public bothering the animals
than the opposite.

"Children are inquisitive. For 10-, 12-year-old boys, there's nothing
greater than to go looking at something like that whether you tell
them not to or not," she said.

Jeff Pope can be reached at 990-2688 or jeff.pope@hbcpub.com.

For the cats,

Carole Baskin, CEO of Big Cat Rescue
an Educational Sanctuary home
to more than 100 big cats
12802 Easy Street Tampa, FL  33625
813.493.4564 fax 885.4457


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