Exotic cat owners added and capped
12:00 AM CDT on Tuesday, May 8, 2007
By JIM GETZ / The
County commissioners voted 3-2 Monday to add three owners they learned of after March 26, when the officials had allowed five known owners and banned all others. The three additional owners have one lion, three tigers and five servals, 40-pound African cats.
The county is the only one in
Effective immediately, any unknown or future owners are banned. Sheriff David Byrnes has said he would work with the district attorney’s office to force such owners to remove their animals from the county.
Even Commissioner Jerry Rowden, who opposed banning the first five known owners, worked with them to find others and advertised Monday’s meeting in three newspapers, has had enough.
"As far as I’m concerned, this is the end of it," he said before the vote. "I’m pretty sick of this now."
The commissioners had passed a registration ordinance in December 2001, shortly after the Legislature required each county to ban or register exotics. But only one owner registered.
After a tiger on one of the fenced properties mauled a lawn worker in June and there were separate reports in the fall of livestock killed by a "big cat," Mr. Rowden pushed to revive the registration ordinance and held meetings on it.
As of Monday, only Corey and Beth Junell, owners of three servals, had registered.
Sheree Daniel, one of the owners added Monday, said that over the years, she tried repeatedly to register her lion, Cruizer, but the sheriff’s employees she dealt with hadn’t known how.
When asked what will happen if his employees do not know the process, Sheriff Brynes said, "I’m going to try to make sure that doesn’t happen, but I can’t guarantee it. We’re dealing with people here."
The sheriff, who has wanted a ban on exotic animals for public safety reasons, said after Monday’s meeting, "The Junells were able to register – are they the only smart people in the county?"
Ms. Daniel, who has had Cruizer for 17 years, was satisfied after Monday’s vote. "I just wanted to keep him, that’s all," she said.
For the cats,
Carole Baskin, CEO of Big Cat Rescue
an Educational Sanctuary home
to more than 100 big cats
12802 Easy Street
813.493.4564 fax 885.4457
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