Panel reviews proposed Raleigh exotic animal ordinance
A Raleigh City Council committee discusses changes to a proposed ordinance limiting ownership of exotic animals in the city.
going to understand some operational practices. And then again I do want to recognize and think those expert panelists that have joined us today outside of their demanding other professional schedules to provide their information or unique perspectives on this topic. So I'm gonna start really briefly just with a bird's eye view of Raleigh's animal control functions within the city. So currently we have 10 animal control officers that are assigned to the unit. They are with one supervisor. Um you'll see here that there is a very high level of um calls for service that this unit is tasked to respond to. So I'll go into greater detail on following slide so that you get a sense of where the emphasis of their enforcement activities are currently. So here you can see that by far there is a lot of focus on um straight animals and then um some some broader categories just in terms of um broad requests. And then the other discrete item with a high call volume is sick and injured animals. Um You can see a lot of increases in the workload across the board here in terms of straight animals um in and other services um as well as a significant number of responses to animal bites. So the animal control officers do are empowered under state law to investigate animal cruelty. Um and have taken action. There are specific procedures called out in our city code with regard to dangerous animals in terms of the procedures that we follow and and the remedies and so they do address that and they also coordinate with the wild north Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission to address wildlife, non domesticated animal issues when those arise. So just a brief shot snapshot of the municipal code. So our provisions and our municipal code currently um are are included in Chapter three of the municipal code. There is specific guidance related to the care of dogs, cats, cattle, fowl, goats, domesticated, um, at some information around domesticated wild animals and then also information about cuts stores. There is definition in pretty great detail around dangerous dogs and in the process is to address as I spoke to on the prior slide, there are definitions for nuisance um, animals in a subset which is considered a vicious animal. Those both of those proceedings are really on the basis of activities or impacts that have been experienced by those animals. They aren't, they aren't proactive um uh provisions and in the code today, there are, there is no specific language that is that addresses exotic animals or reptiles and amphibians. So in terms of around the state, there are some cities and cities are empowered to put in place licensing or registration provisions should they wish to. Currently, the city of Raleigh does not have a regulatory license or registration for any kind of animal registration including um exotic or or reptiles. Amphibians. You'll see that the provision where we do have regulatory licenses are taxi permits. So the Finance Office receives those permits, but there is a, as you can see in terms of focused and enforcement system, there is um a staff within the police department that as do annual inspections and reviews those applications. So there is a bit more of a proactive enforcement implementation of that program amplified entertainment permit. I think the city council has had some recent conversations about this permit in the past. Um that has been more of a passive registration through the Finance Department. Um there has been more recent work and um collaboration with the Police Department and Emergency Management special events to address issues of concerns related to amplified entertainment and that's under review in terms of moving to more um as proactive enforcement of those provisions going forward and the last regulatory licenses, a pawnbroker license which again um is more of a reactive um enforcement strategy if there are issues that are raised of concern for follow up. So Wake County, I've, I think as the council is aware the city can um work with the county to opt into provisions in county ordinance, That Wake County's animal control provisions are found in Chapter 91 of their code. There are municipalities within the county that have opted into that. At the bottom of the slide, you'll see the cities that have their independence um animal control functions that includes US, Cary Garner and Holly Springs. Um they have a lot of similar provisions in the county code to the city code. So um speaking to the care of animals and cruelty of animals, there is also um language and their code similar to the city of rallies regarding dangerous dogs and in the process is to address um They do have a number of provisions that address rabies and intervention or responsibilities related to the prevention of rabies. Um two things that are three provisions that are unique in the county ordinance is one they that provisions related to inherently dangerous mammals. So that is language that is a little bit different than in our code and does include some prohibitions to for things like big cats um or hybrid kinds of dogs, wolves um could include primates, those kinds of things that the county does sometimes get concerns or interact with citizens around some of those particularly large cats. In speaking with wake county animal control. The other two provisions that are beyond the kinds of provisions we we find in the city rally ordinance is um there is language around a community at initiative and that is related to the trap, neuter return program within the county. So those provisions do allow um community organizations to um to capture feral cats um to um address the spay or neuter needs of those animals and to release them. Um Similarly, the community at um uh kind of colonies can and register with the county and be recognized and the cats under the care of those that initiative will not be collected through county animal control activities knowing that they are being um cared for through that program. So those are unique to the cities program. There's a lot of provision in state law that relate to animals. And so those are sprinkled throughout multiple chapters of state law. I've Um underlined a few regulations that I'll go into in greater detail in this presentation, but in Chapter 14 there are a number of provisions, things like cruelty, animals protection of live stack Regulation of certain reptiles, and I'll address those provisions on a following slide in chapter 19 a again, um a broad set of provisions related to animal welfare, cruelty, spay, neuter programs and then some operational um uh outline of operational kind of programs and and funding support. In Chapter 1 13, it outlines the powers and duties of the Wildlife Resource Commission and again, you'll be hearing from Mr Howard later about the duties and responsibilities. I will um briefly speak to a couple of the permits. There are broad set of licenses and permits that the Wildlife Resource Commission is responsible for. There are a couple that are more pertinent to some of the conversations that the City Council has had specifically related to exotic animals. Chapter 138 again provides a lot of uh direction and provisions around um the prevention um and um actions related to rabies. And then in chapter 1 60 A which provides a lot of the local authority to cities, there is specific language around the authority of uh cities and towns to um put in place additional regulations regarding animals beyond that provided in state law. So again, I said that I would go into a little bit greater detail in terms of the staff shoots in chapter 14, related to um venomous reptiles and Amphibians. So there um these are provisions in the past when the city does have Authorities, you see under 14 for 19 or our local animal control officers to be able to take enforcement action based on this statute. And so a recent enforcement case that everybody is familiar here within rally. These were the statutes that we utilized in that case including the last, which is um gives us the ability to um to charge and receive restitution which were pursued in in the recent case in North Raleigh, there are a couple of permits that the Wildlife Resources Resources Commission keeps relevant to this discussion. The first is individuals that have large volumes of amphibians or reptiles are required to get permits through the Wildlife Resources Commission. You'll see on the second bullet that reinforces that individuals may not keep wildlife as pets, but there are some um narrow circumstances where it is permitted to keep a wild animal in captivity. So, those are things scientific, educational exhibition, or similar kinds of purposes. So again, very clear that the state does not permit those animals to be kept as pets, but there is a licensing process for those permitted activities. And then again, this is the provision in state law which gives local cities and towns the ability to regulate animal activities within their jurisdictions. So the city attorney's office previously, with the help of an intern, did do some online research to quickly assess the state of play kind of across the city with regard to ordinance local ordinance language. You'll see in this table a number of city jurisdictions. The focus here is specifically on um exotic reptiles and amphibians. Whether there are provisions in these ordinances that address reptiles and amphibians specifically, you'll see a number of cities that have provisions in their ordinances a number of counties. It is worth noting there are cities such as Fayetteville that will rely on Cumberland County. So they have opted into a county ordinance rather than creating a local city ordinance and then you can see a list of um cities that have no provision. This slide has been modified from information that the council would have previously seen in other information, adding des Moines Iowa, Arlington Virginia, Fort Lauderdale florida and Virginia Beach Virginia. That was more recent benchmarking that was done in preparation for this meeting. So again, um speaking to to that research that was done, we did send out a survey to 21 ST um and national peers that were um more similar size in terms of more urban um cities, we we Unfortunately only had five cities respond to that survey and the cities that responded included uh again Fort Lauderdale Virginia beach, um Cumberland County responded on behalf of Fayetteville and then de Moines Iowa and Arlington Virginia. So the focus of the survey was again try to understand for those cities beyond the original benchmarking within the state, those communities that had local regulations related to exotic animals to understand what kind of programming was in place in terms of program proactive implementation of that. There's a another slide that's upcoming that will show that the options that we asked to try to understand what level of programming was in place. And then we also try to understand um how cities your cities are leveraging partner organizations in implementing their programs. So this is a detailed slide. Again, this will give you a point of reference in terms of the populations that each of the organizations shared. To give some point of reference a number of animal control um or related functions. In some of these cases these are contracted um entities or partnerships, not um internal animal control functions. Again, for a point of reference reminder. Um This city of Raleigh has and animal control officers and one supervisor. So and across the board here some of the staffing capacity and some of these peer cities is a bit more robust. It's hard for us to know without a lot of detailed work if there are deeper programmatic um differences that would explain those differences. You'll see again Cumberland County which was already represented, did have um provisions and its ordinance related to exotic animals see of the other four um that were added as a result of this benchmarking to did have local provisions in their ordinances and two did not. Um you'll see on the slide in the last column, that question about whether there is some level of programming in place around their provisions related to exotic animals and you'll see that information on the following side. So, the things that we tried to ascertain whether organizations had put in place is whether they had any kind of registration to understand um, the exotic animals or reptiles and amphibians in their communities. We didn't identify in this subset, any organizations that had taken that and none had dedicated staffing um for this purpose. Um again then appeared to be keeping broad training related to exotic animals. There were two organizations that reported that they did have um, certifications or training related to the handling of reptiles and amphibians. And then we're doing any kind of corrective outreach or education related to their exotic animal regulations or standards. And none seemed to have standing on call kind of relationships in place to address a concern related to an exotic animal When it came in. Um it did appear through the information that every organization that responded did rely on some level of partnership with outside agencies for technical or operational support that included their county animal control functions, um that equivalent uh state departmental resources they here in north Carolina, state zoos or aquariums, animal rescue groups and then animal control organizations. So there were the regionally some differences in which um animal control organizations were called out. Um The organizations like the humane society are the ESPN is E. S E. C. A. So at this point, um I can pause if there are questions for me or any of the other staff that are on the call before we um invite our expert panel to the screen. That'd be great council members, I can see you, but if we could also take down the screen share just for a second. Um, does anybody have any questions? Got council member cox first and then council member night. Yes. I was wondering with the other communities in north Carolina how they're ordinances complement or supplement what at the state level? Yeah. So I will defer a little bit to Robin and um to Alice, potentially. So I think they have a broad sense of scanning those ordinances, but I think they would be better um able to represent some of what they saw in those ordinances across the state. I can start and I'll let Alice come in. And we had previously provided this chart to council where we did just a survey of um, some cities and towns, cities and counties in north Carolina who regulate um, exotic and dangerous reptiles was what the research we did. We found that there are a number of cities and counties that do specifically called them out as being prohibited? I think that what happened was when the city manager's office did their survey and reached out to find out how they worked. And if they were enforcing them that basically no one responded other than Cumberland County. So they're in the ordinances that they basically some, most of them prohibited. A couple have a registration process, but basically there on paper and we weren't able to get any answers about what they're doing on the ground. Um As far as the state, if there's anything with respect to the state, I would just let Alice get on the line wherever she is and talk about that real quickly. Uh I think I would, I would differ if there's, there's an expert from the wildlife commission, they can speak probably more eloquently about what the regulation is, but they do have a permitting process for certain wildlife. And I think there was a slide that presented about how you can have five types of Amphibians and reptiles Based on their category. If they have up to five, they're going to require permit. If they have up to 25 they're going to require a different permit. So essentially um the state regulates through the wildlife commission and they regulate through licensing and permitting is my understanding, but I think the wildlife commission representative can probably speak um with more detail about their enforcement and regulation. Okay, so the one question I have regarding state law is, when does uh, when would a city ordinance come into conflict with state law? And can we actually uh enact an ordinance that is more restrictive than state law? And if you want me to take that, Robin, I can, yeah, you can take it or I could take it. And just, I guess we refer him to 1 68. 1 87. Yes. So you go ahead. So, um, there is um, A statute, 160 I think, you know, it regulates cities and municipalities as to what laws they can enforce past regulate. Um and 168-187 is uh possession or harboring of dangerous animals. And it does allow the city to pass an ordinance to regulate restrict or prohibit the possession or harboring within the city of animals which are dangerous to persons or property. The only limitation is that we cannot be um less prohibitive than the states, so we have to follow at the very least what the state um, does in terms of setting prohibitions. So, um, if we are less restrictive on our regulations, that would be in violation of state law, but we are certainly allowed to be more restrictive. Okay, thank thank you. It is worth noting because I went through the slide on north Carolina state statutes pretty quickly and mr Howard may be able to speak to this in chapter 1 13 areas a lot of definition in defining animal categories and and species type so that that's certainly something I think we want to be aware of in alignment or classification in in any ordinance that we were to create. Thank you. And council member night. You had a question? Yes, just real quick. Thank you. Uh I just will hope that the experts um respond to um MS Heywood's um presentation. They may be able to discuss it or comment on a little bit better than us, but that would be helpful if they have any specific thoughts on it. Thank you. MS Hayward, I'll let you introduce our panelists because I think you you know what order? Yes, thank you. Um So, uh first and I believe I can see him on the screen, although we've not had the privilege to me except via email, believe brad howard, the wildlife division chief with the north Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission is going to kick us off. It's all my all my computer stuff working and everybody can hear you. Excellent. So there were there were a number of different questions there there. So I was trying to jot them down the the purpose of so the Wildlife Resource Commission is the regulatory authority ever native wildlife species in the state and we regulate um all native wildlife from take of native wildlife to holding those animals in captivity to rehabilitation permits. Um We we do not issue an authorize captivity of native wildlife simply as pets. As as I I just want to have a pet deer, I want to have a pet cottontail rabbit can't get a captivity permit for that. Um You you you have to be, it has to be bona fide educational scientific permits, those kind of things. Um So in general the holding of native wildlife anywhere in the state, being inside the city, a county or whatever is fairly highly regulated as we speak in terms of in terms of just basically having just native animals in captivity, it's it's not legal, you can't you can't do it. Um We you reference to 1 13 statutory definitions which there's and then there's there's there's like four pages of different kind of definitions identifying what the different species are, there's upland game birds, there's, you know, it really defines everything. We also have definitions in N. C. A. C. And R. 10 H. 141. Our it's our general uh definitions and requirements for captivity licenses. And it's it's it's actually quite a big room and you can go look at its but it has a whole host of definitions that, you know, the whole this whole premise is aimed at, you know, basically making sure that people if they are holding native wildlife species in captivity. It is for a bona fide reason. It's it's it's a scientific reason is an educational purpose, those types of things. Um we don't we don't prohibit holding them as pets for breeding purposes, for dog trade. None of that, you know, it's there there's there's only certain reasons you can hold native wildlife species in captivity um With with one exception. And this is the one that hits rather close to home the possession of reptiles and amphibians. We have a rule. And this is a long there's a long history behind this rule. And there's there's there's lots of people and other people find this hard to believe, or maybe maybe not with recent activities, but there are people who really like hurts, They really like reptiles. They really like amphibians, They collect them, they hold them. Um We have a provision and roll that says that you can collect and hold up to four native reptile species unless they are listed. So, just to go ahead and cut to the chase. So technically a person could hold for cotton mouth snakes or copperhead snakes. They cannot hold rattlesnakes without a s a dangerous species license from us permit from us. And they would have to have a bona fide reason for doing. But if somebody wanted to have four cops, if you wanted to hold for copperheads according to the state while they could do that. And there are a few people, we do not regulate any exotic species whatsoever. So, so the cobra, all that stuff really doesn't fall inside of our jurisdiction. There's there's some uh there's some Article 55 stuff. I don't know if you touched on article 55 the holding of of dangerous uh reptiles and that kind of thing. But actually we don't we don't regulate the exotic species. But those are the only real exceptions of people, quote unquote. And the honest reason for that is because people, you know, kids have to get a pet frog, they pick up a turtle, which we don't encourage them to do that. But lots of people have box turtles, a box turtle, pet or whatever. So we have the provisions now, anybody that collects our holds more reptiles or amphibians than that must have a collection license for scientific purposes. And you can't just As with the captivity license, you can't just get a scientific, you can't just get a collection. I want to have 50 snakes. No, there has to be a reason why you're you're holding that many native species. And uh and we're actually modifying this rule to limit it instead of for individual. We're gonna make it for physical address. So there wouldn't be it wouldn't be legal told any more than four of the native wildlife reptile species. Her physical address right now. Three people live there. They could each have four if they wanted to. So that's that's really to my knowledge. The only um sort of exception to the captivity rules. And it falls into the reptiles and amphibians category. Everything else is fairly highly regulated through our regulated activities, did I touch all the questions? I can't remember because there was one more thing I was gonna comment, but I wanted to make sure I touched all the questions. Thank you. Mr Howard council member cox? You have a question. Yes. Just to be clear when you say exotic animals, are we talking about non native animals or we or are there native animals that are considered exotic? Um when I say exotic, I'm talking about non native species, I'm talking about species. Um and and and you know, it's kind of modern technology. I love it. My my my state Herpetologist is listening to us as well. And he's texting me now, Jeff hall to make sure that that I distinguish between uh wildlife and her pups. So they're not categorized the same and well, wildlife. There's there's there's there's wild all those definitions that I think, I'm sorry, I don't remember who spoke. I think they, you know, wildlife has a definition. Wild animals has a definition. Uh Wildlife resources has a definition but but herbs are not, they don't get captured under wild animals. They're not considered wild animals in state statute. So they have their own they have their own special sort of classification. And uh and if I didn't get that right there full text me again and tell me to fix it. But that's that's I think that's pretty much what he was meaning for me to say. it's kind of funny, I think back in the day when they established these statutes and they wrote these laws and, and probably even established our agency. Nobody really cared about her pups and reptiles. And so they just didn't even consider them while, you know, wild animals, they, they considered mammals and birds and, and, and, and all of that. But they just never put the, uh, you know, alligators aren't even considered, you know, wildlife in the statute. Their, their, their hopes their, there are different categories. So, um, I think, I think that's, that's, that was a good point. I kind of sort of blast over that a little bit. That's, that's sort of the reason for why the reptiles and amphibians are a little bit different than the other native wildlife species. Yes, sir, I guess that's okay. I'll just ask one more quick question. I mean, would it be legal for someone to own for alligator? No. Okay. Because alligators are listed species. Were they not a listed species then? Technically? Yes, it would be. But alligators are listed species. So you can, you can get a license, we do have a few licensed facilities in the state. Um, but, but honestly, most of, most of the alligators in captivity are, are alligators that were born and raised in captivity. I mean florida Louisiana. A lot of these states have very, pretty significant captive alligators. And, but what we do have a couple that, and therefore educational purposes that the reason they hold, we only issue those permits for, for educational purposes as well. Nobody has enough people probably have alligators as pets. We just haven't called them yet. But, but we, we do catch them periodically. Our our enforcement guys are pretty good at that. Um, hi, if I may just make one note, you know, read some of the early earlier versions and looking at trying to, and I commend you for trying to address this this situation. It's putting some putting some parameters on some of this stuff is always a good thing. But you know, I've heard it referenced today a couple times and I saw it before referencing. You know, what, what, what is a dangerous animal. And I think we, you know, I don't want some of our native species to get labeled as quote unquote dangerous animals when a lot of them are walking around in our yards and inside the city right now, you know, uh, so, um, and I don't think they're dangerous. You know, I think we can probably put our fingers on what would be considered, you know, dangerous or, or, or inappropriate to have and, and, and that would put people at at undue risk. But uh, so I, I think that's something to think about it if you explore this further is, is to rather than caveat the whole group is dangerous animals. Um, nobody should hold wildlife in any wild animal if handled inappropriately. Is gonna be I mean they're gonna bite you or kick you or hurt you. I mean that's what wild animals do. But but that that was one of the things that sort of came out. You know I don't want deer and foxes and you know they don't want them labeled as dangerous. They are dangerous if you've got a pin up and you're trying to treat them as pets. But they also walk around in our yards quite frequently all over Raleigh settlement. Uh Other questions for me. I don't I don't know if I covered what you were hoping that I would or not. Mr Howard. I think that was wonderful and I love the energy you brought to this conversation. Um So thank you for that. Doesn't do any council members having a final questions for council member night. Go for it. Thank you. Mr Howard. And I think this is a great uh I'm glad you started because I think it helps us clean up our animal list. Um Mhm. All right. Been working with the legal staff. Um And it was just good for you to be here to confirm the issue of no native wildlife can be held in captivity. I would like us to think about if it would be smart to prohibit cottonmouths and copperheads within the city limits of Riley. Just like we are looking at other venomous snakes. Um That's the only two that I see is native that I would be interested in um prohibiting. Thank you any other questions. All right, thank you. Mr howard. MS Hayward, I think. Well, good and number two. Yeah. So, uh we next have lisa Watney lisa is the senior strategist with that is responsible for captive wildlife with the Humane society of the United States. I'm gonna ask that she be elevated as a Panelist. Just so you can see her briefly. She does have a presentation that I'm going to share. That. She'll give me prompts in terms of advancing slides. So I just want to confirm that we've gotten his wealth. Me with us. Yes, I am here. And can you hear me? Okay? We can hear you. Thank you for playing. Now. You see me. Okay, So I'm gonna I'm going to bring up her presentation. Great, okay, thank you very much tansy and good afternoon madam, Chair and members of the committee. My name is lisa Watney and I work on captive wildlife issues for the Humane Society of the United States, on behalf of our supporters in north Carolina. And uh including Raleigh, we wholeheartedly support the proposal to prohibit possession of dangerous wild animals. Next slide please. The private possession of wild species is inhumane and it poses unacceptable risk of physical harm and disease to the community and to emergency responders. There are exotic animals in every nook and cranny of the country, exotic cats, bears, monkeys, reptiles, and many other species are tucked away in people's basements, backyards, garages, Rvs, you name it and we have probably seen it. Next question please. I mean next slide, no federal agency tracks these animals and state and local laws vary widely. So more often than not. Officials and neighbors are unaware of the presence of a dangerous wild animal until it escapes or attack someone as Riley, recently experienced firsthand law enforcement personnel and other first responders should never have to face something as extraordinary as an escaped wild animal and no citizen should have to worry about encountering a cobra wildcat, a monkey or a python in their neighborhood. Next slide please. The common sense solution is strict laws that limit the possession of dangerous wild animals to only qualified facilities such as zoos accredited by the Association of Zoos and aquariums, as well as legitimate sanctuaries. These are facilities with the knowledge experience and resources to provide proper humane, safe and long term care for species that have unique and often very complex needs. Next slide, dangerous wild animal generally refers to any non domesticated species that's capable of inflicting death, serious injury or illness to a person or domestic animal. We encourage legislators to at the very least ban exotic cats, bears, primates, wolves, venomous reptiles, giant constrictor snakes, alligators and crocodiles. Next time 1990 captive big cats have killed 24 people, including one adult and one child in north Carolina And they've injured more than 300 others in 46 states, Even the smallest monkey species are incredibly strong and primates become especially dangerous when they reach sexual maturity attacks from primates can result in severe disability and disfigurement. And primates can transmit a number of very serious diseases to people such as tuberculosis And the Herpes B virus, which if it's left untreated, has a nearly 80% mortality rate in humans. Next line, 18 people have died from large constrictor snake related incidents in the us since 1978. These included one person who suffered a heart attack during a violent struggle with his python and a woman who died from a salmonella infection. Four babies sleeping in their cribs, as well as three other Children have been squeezed to death by large constrictor snakes. Next slide, if someone is bitten by a venomous snake, the antivenin may be difficult to find if it exists at all. Um, when the owner of the missing copra who was bitten bitten by his pet mamba three months earlier, the antivenin had to be obtained from the riverbanks zoo, 250 miles away in South Carolina, this means that zoo workers are put at risk if a zoo supply of antivenin is depleted to save the life of someone bitten by a pet. Next slide, The private possession of wild animals not only poses a danger, it's sentences animals to a lifetime of misery more often than not. These animals are kept in woefully inadequate and unnatural conditions in environments that allow no opportunity for them to express natural behaviors. Next slide, the average person simply does not have the expertise and the resources that are necessary to provide the specialized and costly care that wild species require. And as a result, these animals are typically relegated to small and barren cages and fed inappropriate diets that often result in severe health issues. And reptiles especially suffer on an unimaginable scale, dealers typically pedal reptiles as low maintenance pets to unqualified people at flea markets, expose and over the Internet, and most reptiles end up in homes and are not provided the space diet and climate controlled environment they require. And as a result, many suffer symptoms of neglect or die due to poor care. Next slide, especially concerning our reptile breeding operations, where the animals who are considered nothing more than commodities are kept in warehouse type conditions, often stacked in plastic containers that are no bigger than a shoe or sweater box. These animals suffer significant stress and frustration in these sensory deprived environments and it's important to point out that no federal agency oversees reptile breeding operations. The last slide, please, We discourage laws that simply issue permits for people to keep exotic animals permitting systems are costly. They're labor intensive and they're ineffective. For example, although florida has quite a complex permitting system, it also has the worst record of dangerous incidents in the country. The only situation that warrants a permitting system is for animals covered under a grandfather clause. So prohibiting ownership of dangerous wild animals is a common sense proposal that's in the best interests of the public and the animals. And we appreciate you looking into this issue. Thank you. Thank you, Miss with me. Um, Council members have any questions. Council member night. Thank you. Member tim. Um, Thank you. Uh, Miss Watney. Uh, I want to focus on and I appreciate your presentation. Um, I think there's a there's two separate but related issues. There's one in the inherently dangerous category of animals. Right? And then there's the sort of the second category which talks is more of the ethical Issue of harboring or possessing 30 of these animals. Um, I mean, I think if I understand all right, I want you to say it again. Y'all support grandfathering all of these animals that you talked about. It seems to me I'm not at least initially supportive of grandfathering in big cats, primates, animals like that. I am interested in having a further discussion around reptiles. And amphibians are really venomous snakes, um uh, about those because I do think we're not at this point looking at non dangerous reptiles and amphibians. Um and I know y'all want us to and I'm glad to have that conversation, but I think that focuses more on those reps. Uh huh That are dangerous, inherently dangerous. Been the snakes put it that way. Um, but I want to make sure uh for you to say one more time if you support grandfather again, nine reptile and amphibian classification of animals. Um We we do support that. That doesn't mean that we would not support an ordinance that did not have a grandfather clause. But to be honest with you, I only know of one situation where actually maybe to where an ordinance was passed that did not contain a grandfather clause for a number of reasons, one of them being that the local officials did not want to be responsible or having to um confiscate and or place exotic animals. So the idea was anybody who already has any of these animals gets to keep them, They register them so the county or city knows what they have and through attrition they'll be gone. I look councilor knight freeze on us influenced if that was, if grandfather was allowed, then there would have to be a registering or permitting system put in place for those grandfather creatures, which seems to me can be quite arduous for a city of staff to have to do. But I want to hear more about that. Um Again, just from our experience with mostly legislation at the state level, that hasn't been a huge issue. People who want to keep their animals are given a certain amount of time to come forward to say what they have to register them to identify them. And that's the only way that authorities can ensure that they don't get more and that once those animals have passed on no more are allowed, but that hasn't been a significant issue in other places that I know of. Thank you Miss Whitney. Um but would be animal control and other counselor. And I think you broke up quite a bit on that last question. Okay, sorry. Uh just real quick. So that would mean that our animal control would have to be prepared if we got registration back there. Were these animals out there? Um And again, I'm not talking about the reptiles and amphibians. I'm talking about the big caps in the in the in the primates, they would have to be trained to be able to deal with these because we know that they're out there and even though we all have them registered and they hopefully we will be uh examining where they're kept, how they're kept. They could still get loose theoretically, and we'd have to be able to deal with that, correct, ideally. Yes. Thank you. Council Member cox you the question very much. Well, it's more of a comment. I mean, I think the registering and grandfather's approach seems reasonable, in my view. Um I mean, if we think it's owners for staff to have to register animals, I think it'll be a lot more onerous for staff to have to go out there and confiscate animals from people and I think registering and grandfathering is certainly a reasonable and tried and true approach apparently. Thank you. Council member banks. Um MS Whitney, I've had one clarifying question and this is just kind of assessing risk. Uh You said 18 people have died due to wild, exotic I think Snakes specifically since 1978. Is that is that throughout the country or? Okay. Yes. And that's a large constrictor snakes, Boas, Pythons, et cetera um since 1978. And yes, that's throughout the country. Okay. Okay. Um thank you any other questions for Miss Whitney. All right, thank you very much for joining us today. We really appreciate it. Thank you. Our next Panelist is Phil goss spill, Is that the President of the US Association of Reptile Keepers? So will ring Mr. Goss into the meeting. Mhm. Hello, is my video going to come onto? Yeah. So you should share your you should have a button that allows you to share your video. Hey, look at that. There it is. There you go. We see you. Hello, everybody. I'm Phil guys, I'm the president of the United States Association of Reptile Keepers or US arc. We are a five oh one C six I. R. S registered nonprofit in the US. And I always point this out. We represent responsible reptile and amphibian keepers And as someone mentioned earlier, there are quite a few people who keep reptiles as pets. Statistically, there are actually 25,000 people just in Raleigh that have pet reptiles. But again, you have to realize what that means, that's all reptiles that maybe, you know, a child's pet leopard Gecko or small corn snake or even small python species. And also, just, just to highlight on pythons, python's, you can compare these later dogs, there are chihuahua sized pythons and there are saint bernards sized python. So you really have to understand that a lot of times boas and pythons just get thrown in. A lot of people think they're big snakes, but some bow is only weigh a few ounces. Again, that's ounces, not pounds as adults. And some pythons don't even get three ft long. So, you know, it's important to realize that you're talking about some species that stay very small. And the ball python, for example, it's typically a 3 to 3.5 ft long snake sold at every major pet store across the country, including petco and petsmart, they, you know, they don't even have the capacity to get, you know, 15 or 20 ft, but a lot of people fear when they hear the word pythons up. Important to put that in perspective. And I would also like to say, I think there was a little bit of misrepresentation, unfortunately, in HSUS video, um someone has been keeping a large constrictor snakes for over 25 years now, um in large cages. Um and you know, when you see those smaller cages represented are shown. It's really important to put that into perspective too, because a lot of times that's for baby reptiles. Obviously if you're raising chickens or puppies or horses, whatever they are, you don't let the baby's just run around a huge pasture because it's going to be easy for them to get lost. It's gonna be hard for them to find food. It might be hard for them to find a proper heat source. So obviously if you have baby gecko's or frogs or snakes, whatever they are, a smaller enclosure is actually better for animal welfare because they're going to be able to get access to food and water easier, the appropriate heat, they're gonna be able to thermal regulate better than if you have them and too big of an enclosure. So again, unfortunately, sometimes us rep people reptile people get a bad name. When those pictures get shown, it's not actually describe what's going on with that. And also some of those smaller enclosures are for smaller species of animals. And one of the last things I'd like to highlight, I didn't prepare a presentation because I knew we were limited on time, but you know, a lot of times we get called as labeled as peddlers and told these animals are easier to keep. I'm not going to say that some reptile seller may not do that, it's no different than a used car salesman who may fit to you about a car, but our association and the majority of reptile keepers and breeders are not like that, you know, we're not telling people that large constrictors, snakes are suitable first pets actually, us Sergeant was out of the way to tell people and actually advise sellers to provide what we call reptile acquisition forms so that people realize how big a species may get or that it may not be an appropriate first pet. So again, there's a lot of separation between again, the majority of reptile keepers are responsible again, with five million households in the US keeping these animals. If the majority were irresponsible, you can only imagine that would be all that was in the news was some escaped reptile. So again, I just wanted to kind of clarifying some of that stuff. And the last clarification is going to be on a large snake desk. Certainly there is a risk that comes with certain species of snakes. But Again, to just look at the 5000 ft view on that some of those incidents, well actually everyone could have been prevented. One incident, for example, was a large 13 ft python that the owner was trying to give a shot to buy herself. Obviously if she would have had a person or to assisting her, that would have avoided that incident. No different than someone administering medicine to a horse. Obviously you may not do that on your own. It's going to be much more advisable to have, You know, two or 3 people there to assist with that. So you know sometimes working with these large animals it was because someone did something he or she should not have been doing. And again that's why the incident occurred and I would much rather spend my time answering questions and then throwing out facts and statistics at you. So I'll be here for the whole call if you want to come back to me I'll be more than happy to answer questions. I have written over 100 ordinances and regulations. City and state levels actually worked on the Arlington Virginia ordinance. I was a consultant on that and wrote much of that ordinance which I know was mentioned earlier. So again I'm here to answer questions and help Raleigh anyway I can going forward thank you. Thank you very much. Mr goss do any council members have any questions? Council member night. Mr Gosh you know Yeah had some good conversations. Great to being old. Uh reasonable uh ethical reptile amphibian keepers. Um You agree that it is national Council member night where you're breaking up real bad. Remember? Given given the poor connection uh We're happy to read your questions from chat if it's I don't think we've caught up yet. Council member night where you are you have a really weak connection. Do you want to send us the questions via chat and then we'll read it. Yeah thank you. Um Any other council members have questions for Mr Council member Cups. Yes I just wanted to say that I appreciate Mr Kao's comments and I would certainly welcome is input into any ordinance that we draft. And I would look forward to him actually being a resource for that gladly. This is where I make fun of council member nights age and how slowly he types. Councilman Wilcox has got to have a higher words per minute. Yeah and we can always come back if we want to go to the next Panelist I can help back on. I'll be here. Thank you. Mr Gus. I think I'm gonna hang on I'm done. All right. You're not my words council overnights question. Um don't you agree it is reasonable and rational to delineate venomous snakes from the rest of the reptiles in terms of risk factor in public safety factor. Yeah I totally agree venomous snakes and crocodilians need to be treated a little bit differently. I wouldn't label them as inherently dangerous again because you know unfortunately with venomous reptiles a lot of people think they go out looking to bite people. That's actually the last thing they want to do. Any venomous snake. Actually the last thing that will do is vita vita person that's only if it's cornered or feels threatened because their venom it's hard to produce and they will only bite again is a last ditch effort to save themselves that's intended for their prey and not to defend themselves so but still certainly you know when you have a situation like you just had in Raleigh, you got to do something and I understand that. Um but you know, I compared to, you know, owning a horse or a german shepherd or a gun, you know, someone's going to be responsible and keep that animal in an escape proof enclosure, it's going to be absolutely no risk to the general public and you know, certainly irresponsible people should be punished like the gentleman, we just had to let the cobra get loose and again, having 75 venomous snakes is not something that's that's common. Um I don't know why he had that many reptiles when he wasn't doing some type of bona fide, you know, either educational or research program with that or possibly going into, you know, milking the snakes for venom to produce antivenin. Um but again, that was just a, you know, an unfortunate situation, possibly even like animal hoarding situations that you may have seen before in Raleigh and um you know, it's unfortunate, I understand you've got to do something. So certainly there should be a different level of discussion on those animals, but again, we just really hate to see bands if someone is going to be responsible. I hate to see the government come in and say that you can't do this when you have the resources and the capacity to do something responsibly. But again, the city may need to look at why you're keeping those animals and if it's not for you know college coursework or some type of bona fide program. Um There should be at least some type of permit that somebody could could get if they were going to be responsible with those animals in the city. Oh I'm sorry I see a question about snakes escaping their enclosures. You know again it's it's you can compare it on so many things. You can compare it with dog owners or horse owners. Sometimes those animals get loose. It happens on occasion. But again just think about, as I told you there are 20 statistically 5% of the U. S. Has pet reptiles. So in in Raleigh which is almost half a million people. You're looking at 25,000 people who have pet reptiles. If these snakes and other reptiles were constantly escaping they would be all over Raleigh. So it's not that common at all. Again I've been keeping them since Well breeding since 1997 and keeping large next longer than that. And I've never had a snake it loose. So we're talking 30 years at one point I had almost 80 large constrictors. Um because I was a breeder but again never never had one get loose. So it's it happens but it's not that common council member for it. I guess. I was gonna say we've got a couple of questions in the chat even before. Um Councilor nights questions. I'm not sure how we're relaying those questions and making sure the public will be tuning into this. Can see the questions and having somebody, I'll address the antivenin one real quick and jen Davis who I believe is a Panelist, she can go in more in depth on this, she's speaking next. But that's something else the city may want to look at. They may require that some antivenin be kept at the local hospital that is funded by any venomous keepers in Raleigh. Um that's something else that we've seen put in place in ordinances and other places. So but again, I think jen jen can speak on that at a higher level than I can so. Great, thank you. Um I think that'll do it then. Mr Gosper now and then we have one final Panelist. So our last Panelist is Jim Davis jen is the director of code venom, trauma solutions and she's also a north Carolina Association of reptile keepers Board member. Jim will be joining us. Hi there, how are you guys today? Can you hear me? Yes, we can hear you and we can see you now to thank you. Okay, sorry about that. I'm a little bit illiterate when it comes to technology at times. So um does anybody have any questions to start feel covered a lot of what I was going to say. Which thank you Phil. And so did brad, are there any questions that I can answer very quickly. None. Hey, MS. Davis could talk to you again. I guess you you cover Mr goss is dealing with reptiles and amphibians. You you deal with animals beyond reptile and amphibian. That's correct. Isn't that correct? I served as a consultant for just about everything exotic and I've got extensive with indigenous wildlife as well. I work with federal, state and local municipalities on a regular basis. Okay great. I think part of what you could enlighten us is about maybe the nine reptiles and amphibians that Mr Gus did not speak to. You know, big cats. Uh uh primates, those type of things that maybe you could sort of give us some advice of how to deal with those. Thank you. So I've been dealing with this for three decades, about 30 years. I grew up in this type of industry of you know, been in and out of zoos and worked in and out of zoos and different capacities Over the past 10 years, we have seen a pretty good decline in ownership, private ownership here in north Carolina of large cats, um exotic cats. Anything from a serval and above. I certainly wouldn't consider a serval or and also a lot of large cat, but it's definitely not a house cat primates. I have seen a decline in some of the larger world primates. Um some of these smaller species that people see glorified on social media uh in movies, things like that. There has been a small uptick in those with like your small marmosets, finger monkeys, spider monkeys, capuchins, things like that. Um, my issues with some of these are is, you know, unfortunately there are people that will find a way to obtain anything. It doesn't matter what it is and they think that it's an inherent right that they can have that whether they're able to care for it properly or not. But as a whole, I would say 90 do actually take care of these animals and provide the environments in the enrichment that they need. They see veterinary care. Um, A lot of these owners have college funds set up for these animals so that they can maintain the care for them. Um, I do believe that there needs to be a permitting registration type system for all exotic animals that could be considered inherently dangerous, which is another word that I don't like, anything can be considered inherently dangerous. Uh, we've certainly had our fair share of dog attacks this year, feral cats. Um, you know, decimate wildlife populations have pushed wildlife populations, certain species to extinction. Uh, there are lots of issues that can be talked about and discussed when it comes to complications. A permitting system. I've heard a lot today about permitting systems being comprehensive and not able to be really not feasible and hard to maintain, but they're actually not. If you get your ordinance and you set your definitions and you make clear defined definitions with very clear defined penalties. We're breaking these conditions for violating these conditions, the monies that actually come in from the registrations of the permitting processes can actually help pay and deter defer some of those costs that are in there. It is something that can happen. I've worked with many agencies many different counties and states on working with these ordinance just like Phil has. So it is something to be brought into discussion. One of my biggest fears is that if a band goes across where prohibition goes across even with the grandfather in clause, how are you going to deal with these animals? What agency is going to come in and take these animals? Who is going to care for these animals, Your animal control agencies. I'll be honest with you. Most animal control agencies across the state, unless I've been the one to train them. I have no clue how to deal with these and that's what I've done. I volunteer train these agencies for free my own pocket so that these guys and first responders aren't, aren't going to places where they're going to be put in dangerous situations and not know what to do with them. So there has to be something put into place if you're going to push forth an ordinance regardless of whether there's a band or whatever have you. You need to think about your officers, not just animal control officers, All of your first responders and your officers that would be engaging these homes or these places, these farms where these animals are found so that they properly know how to take care of themselves and we need to look out for the welfare of these animals as well. It's not the animal's fault that they're being kept in captivity. So ownership a keeper culpability needs to lie with them, making sure they have everything and that that's as much as going forth and introducing yourself. So with the registration or permitting system, these animals, these places where these animals are found can be kept in a cad system, it doesn't need to be opened up to where the public knows you know what's going on and who's got what in their house. But for our officers are Elio fireman. Uh E. M. S. Services, animal control officers. Public officials. If they have to make a Visit to this home or this area that they know exactly what's in the home and if they need backup they know exactly what. So if a 911 call is made, those operators are very very skilled at going down and picking which buttons and who needs to be sent for backup and who needs to call and that line of communication goes out for those resources, additional resources that are needed. Thank you. MS. Davis. Do you? Council members have any questions for about questions unless that's council member cox. I feel like you're queuing up there. I just wanted to say thank you. I appreciate these insights in common council member night. Did you have a question. Nicole man. I do have to say, you know, most of the exotic animal keepers, especially our reptile keepers here in this day. They're not opposed to a registration system. They're not opposed to, you know, something that is feasible and obtainable. They're not opposed to being inspected. They really want to do the right thing by their animals. I just think that banning these animals because there is the general public is ill educated and scared of these animals. I just I don't see where that's going to be a solution to this issue. I really don't. Mhm. Thank you. Council member night send us a question in the chat. Do permitting systems you've dealt with have to pay for a permit? Yes. Yes, permits, permits and registration fees can be done. It's no different than the counties and municipalities that have a registration system for their dogs and cats. Um There's typically get attached with um their taxes or they get attached to their rabies vaccinations. You can make it where it is A blanket fee of $25 for let's say a tier of if you have 20 or less animals, you can make it a different type of registration for your permitting fee for those that have something that would be considered more dangerous like venomous. Um you could make it a you know, $2-$5 or whatever. Have you, you could make it a mount that's like I said feasible and obtainable for responsible owners, her animal instead of a blanket. There are many different options that can be there. But the money's that can come in from this basically can go into and a scroll type of count where if there are any issues it doesn't come out of the taxpayers dollars to take care of it, it would come out of the actual owners themselves. People who are keeping, it's kind of like a liability or an insurance policy where there is an amount of money that's in there. So anti venom to local facilities in case of a bike. So when we're talking about antivenom or antivenin, the terms are used interchangeably. These owners are capable of obtaining A B. B. I. N. G. Which is a federal investigational drug license to where that they can purchase and have their own anti the name in their own homes for the species that they have. So there's an ability for them to do so without it being kept at the local facilities. One of the problems with some of the anti vaccines are is they can expire, they do expire so using them past the expiry. Typically the hospitals will not use anything outside of expiry until unless it is an absolute emergent situation. Um or there is a Protocol that's in place by that individual keeper that states if the only anti vaccine available for me is expired. I hold so and so not liable. Um they can use the expired antivenin on me. These are drugs um and some of them can be quite costly. They can cost as little as $40 a vial. And they can cost up to Dear God some of the hospitals mark them up to $50,000 a vial. So but they can buy it on their own with that B. B. I. And D. Which is very easy, very simple to obtain. Um And I'm more than happy to send that information to you guys about that as well. Uh The only thing that they require to do that is is they have to have a doctor that will sign off for them and a place to store the antivenin and has to be stored properly or it's not efficacious is you can't use it. So instead of the hospitals, you know covering that cost or any of our private facilities are zoos which the antigen indexes, what poison control calls to find out where the nearest available anti venom is. So riverbanks zoo has provided quite a bit for bites that have been in the southeast Kentucky reptile zoo has provided alligator adventure has provided in the past. Um They also have the option to say no that they don't have enough to send out because it does put their own keepers in danger if they extend that. And recently it was hard to obtain new antivenom because well some of the companies were not able to produce it because we were dealing with the covid issues. So you know there are mitigating factors that go into that however it could be a requirement that if you are going to possess venomous that you would you would have your own B. B. I. N. D. And your own personal story of antivenin that would also show responsibility and wanting to protect and take care of and and promote what we all promote for us. Arc and NCR you know, we want responsible ownership, responsible keepers ship a lot of these animals are kept for you know stewardship purposes. So you know conservation. There are a lot of issues that are in there and some people have reptiles for pets because well they're hypo allergenic. So you know, some people can't have fluffy cats and dogs and bunnies because Standard doesn't work well for. Thank you MS Davis. We're we're gonna get ready to move to public comment because I'm keeping an eye on our time and we used to have at least I think about that. No no no no we appreciate you being here. We appreciate your service to helping us in the past and um I appreciate all of you all have come out and spoke today. Um I think we have mr boggs is going to help us with our public comment section and novel I think let him read off our speakers and get them queued up in the order. You have them. Mr boggs. Mhm. Yeah, Give me 1 2nd just searching for and as as we get ready for that we're going to give speakers three minutes each. You do not have to take the full three minutes if you don't want to. Um Miss Hey where do we have a clock up or I can keep at a time here. I believe Colin is going to monitor monitor time for us, Colin, will you confirm that? Yes I can monitor time for us. We actually don't have any anyone specifically indicated if they would like to speak but if folks can just send me a a chat in the chat box and privately and just let me know if you would like to speak. We can so Colin let's just go down the list of registered individual so you can you can do that either in the order that they came through or on the basis of their registration. So I think by virtue of the registration, I think they're indicating their interest in speaking so they can certainly decline if they believe that their issues have already been adequately addressed. Okay, the first one we have Upton is laura combs. Hello, thank you everyone for the opportunity to speak today and thank you for taking this topic up. I'm going to go quickly. So hold on. My name is laura combs and can you hear me? Yes I have a masters in urban and regional planning with the specialty environmental planning. I was the state of florida employee for the florida, Department of Natural Resources florida, Department of Environmental Protection and with non profits from 1990 to 2006. My first point and I wasn't here today to speak about reptiles, but I urge you to consult with local governments in the state of florida regarding how they handle regulation of released reptile species. I'm still in contact with my colleagues and as you know, in florida, reptiles have been released willy nilly in north Carolina. They cannot survive the cold temperatures here, but I can't imagine that north Carolinians behave so much better than all the folks in florida who have released reptiles that have wreaked havoc on the ecosystem. Uh, second I came today to ask you to think bigger and to tag on to what HSUS provided in their testimony. Um, There are cases where traveling shows come through local government jurisdictions, they may have a car breakdown, for example, or a truck break down. Those animals are now stranded. The exhibitor will open them up to public interaction. I'm encouraging you to check into Nevada's nu uh law where they have no public contact restrictions on big cats, elephants, primates, wolves, bears, hyenas. Uh, we had a case here in north Carolina knows that the elephant uh, and she, her last performance was in rally and unfortunately her circus broke down in Alabama. Local government had just busted an exotic animal ring. They knew what they were looking at. They confiscated nosy. She eventually was retired to sanctuary at the Tennessee elephant sanctuary after many horrendous years of travel and abuse and she does carry tv antibody's. So some of these animals, like elephants can interact with humans and transmit that disease. So banning the interaction with wild and exotic performing animals would be a great help to deter future visits of these types of, of organizations. And um, you know north north Carolina, we do have bands, Orange County bands, displays of these types of animals. Asheville does have a lot on the books as well. We still have circus is coming to rally and you never know who's going to come with a side show in florida. We saw them all the time and I was calling my colleagues as in state employee saying, come check this facility because the making the conditions that these animals were kept in were horrendous. So hopefully you can think bigger look to deter these types of visiting shows by banning public contact with these animals because it is a public health hazard. And I think that's all I put down in my notes, I'll be happy to connect you with some folks in florida. If yo