Proposed wild animal law raises herd of questions in Robinson
Thursday, August 07, 2008
By Brian David, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Robinson commissioners don't want residents keeping cougars or wolves as pets.
But what about snakes? Frogs? Piranhas? Falcons?
"We may have a problem here," Dan Tallon, commissioners' chairman, said Monday night after hearing that a proposed ordinance would prohibit carnivorous wild animals. "It sounds like that definition would include snakes, and people do have snakes as pets."
That lit off a comical but thought-provoking conversation, which included the question of whether snakes are animals and whether some snakes are carnivorous. "I can't think of any that are not," Treasurer Ed Ritter quipped.
Township engineer Michael Meyer wondered if the ban would include Venus flytraps, before someone noted that those insect-eating plants are, in fact, plants.
Meanwhile, both Mr. Tallon and Commissioner Ron Shiwarski said they fear snakes and would love to ban them, but neither one was seriously proposing doing so.
"People do have snakes as pets," Mr. Tallon said repeatedly when staffers pressed for an answer on whether the ban should include snakes.
Township Manager Rich Charnovich said the ordinance was written to address concerns about crowing roosters and dogs that are overly aggressive or bark too much. The section on carnivores was intended to address large, dangerous predators.
"But if we pass this with this language in there, we'll have every snake owner in the township down here complaining," Mr. Tallon said.
"I think we ought to get it right before we approve it so we don't end up going back and amending it later," Mr. Shiwarski said.
Solicitor Sam Kamin said it would be difficult to write an ordinance that addresses every possibility. After the meeting, he said he thinks the best solution is to let pet owners apply for waivers if they want to own wild carnivores.
But the commissioners were not swayed.
"Fix it," Mr. Tallon said. And when Mr. Charnovich asked what the commissioners wanted it to say, he repeated, "Fix it."
Brian David can be reached at email@example.com