Warren wants to tame pet law

Warren wants to tame pet law

Monday, July 03, 2006

Macomb County

After problems with exotics, city is revising its ordinance, clarifying rules on dog, cat numbers.

Christina Stolarz / The Detroit News

WARREN — Lions and tigers and bears — in Warren?

After the city’s animal control officer had run-ins with alligators, boa constrictors, geckos and even a wallaby, Warren officials are revising their animal ordinance to include a ban on wild and exotic animals, city spokesman Joe Munem said.

An original list of more than 30 exotic animals — from rhinoceroses and elephants to boa constrictors and sharks — will be reviewed to clarify what should be included in an ordinance, he said.

While constrictor snakes can pose a threat if they get out, for example, some smaller sharks in restaurant or home aquariums are harmless, he said.

Once a list is formed, the Warren City Council will vote on making the ordinance changes, Munem said.

“There’s no infestation of rhinos, sharks and elephants in the city of Warren,” Munem said. But, “there are certainly exotic animals that people should not be possessing. We also want to be reasonable.”

Animal control officer Timothy Herig said the city’s animal ordinance is too vague.

It doesn’t specifically list animals that are inappropriate household pets; it lists dangerous animals as anything other than domestic dogs and cats that could cause harm in a wild state. The only animals mentioned include poisonous and constrictor snakes and those in the cat family.

“It’s just getting out of hand,” Herig said. There’s become “a need to define it a little more carefully.”

An assistant manager at the Humane Society of Macomb said any animal, including a dog, could become dangerous. It just depends on how well the pet and its owner are trained, said Janet Lupek, assistant manager of the Utica facility.

“If a boa constrictor got loose in a neighborhood that might be a bit of a problem, but then so can a dog that’s not properly trained,” said Lupek, noting the Humane Society doesn’t accept exotic animals. “It’s unfortunate the people are going to wild animals when we have so many domesticated animals that need homes.”

Another possible change to the animal ordinance includes rewriting the section on the number of common household pets because it is unclear, Herig said.

Right now, one section says that residents can have up to three dogs and up to three cats in their home. Yet, another section reads that residents can have no more than five animals, he said.

The ordinance is “going to be rewritten so people can understand,” Herig said.

You can reach Christina Stolarz at (586) 468-0343 or cstolarz@detnews.com.

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