Victims’ families testify on exotic pets

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Victims' families testify on exotic pets
Eagle Topeka bureau
TOPEKA - Ronda Good stood teary-eyed in front of a group of lawmakers Monday
and told them her daughter would be filling out college applications and
shopping for a prom dress if Kansas had stricter regulations on dangerous
But Haley Hilderbrand was killed last year while posing for her senior
pictures with a Siberian tiger.
The 7-year-old cat was supposed to be safe, Good said; it had been around
people all its life.
"But the fact is, it was still a tiger, and it did what tigers do," she
said, crying. "He attacked Haley exactly like a tiger attacks its prey,
killing her instantly."
The state needs a law to prevent that from happening to someone else, she
She urged the House Wildlife, Parks and Tourism Committee to pass Bill 578
to bar most human contact with lions, tigers, mountain lions, leopards,
jaguars, cheetahs, bears and non-native venomous snakes.
The proposal, already approved unanimously by the Senate, would also require
$250,000 in insurance and strict licensing for owners of exotic animals.
J. Clay Thomas of Sterling also pleaded for stronger laws.
He said a tiger attacked his wife's arm through a fence while she posed for
a photo with Boy Scouts.
The tiger grabbed her hand and pulled her arm through the cage, he said.
"It chewed and crushed her hand," he said as photos before and after the
incident circulated the room.
He said his wife survived the attack but needed 13 surgeries to regain half
the use of her arm.
"Had (Bill 578) existed that year, then maybe I wouldn't have to be standing
here today," he said.
Some zoo owners urged lawmakers to make sure facilities regulated by the
Zoological Association of America and the newer American Zoological
Association are exempt from paying registration fees with municipal animal
control departments. They also want zoos registered with those associations
to be able to buy, sell and trade animals.
The bill was moved to a subcommittee for more discussion. Committee Chairman
Don Myers, R-Derby, said he's not sure when the committee will vote on the
bill, but he said it is important and will be acted on in coming weeks.
Posted on Tue, Mar. 21, 2006



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