Commission considers regulations for exotic pets
Two recent attacks on people by exotic animals have prompted the Leavenworth County Commission to explore a resolution that regulates the possession and ownership of the animals.
County commissioner Joe Daniels drafted the rough draft of the resolution, which calls for 13 separate guidelines for the ownership of the animals.
The resolution was presented to the entire Commission during a hearing on Monday, Aug. 10.
Some of the guidelines include caging requirements, liability insurance of at least $100,000 for each occurrence of damage to property, death or bodily injury, and signs posted to alert people to the animals presence.
Daniels' resolution also calls for each animal to be registered and identified by microchip or tattoo at the expense of the owner. Any owner that fails to comply with any of the guidelines in the plan can be fined and charged with a misdemeanor, he said.
The county commissioners will review and take action on an updated version of the resolution at a hearing Oct. 2 at the Leavenworth County Courthouse.
Daniels said the resolution is designed to protect the general public from the animals.
"The public contact with these animals should be kept at a minimum," Daniels said.
The need for the resolution stems from two attacks by animals owned by Richard Provance. Provance, a Tonganoxie resident, could not be reached for comment for this story.
On Aug. 19, Misty Allison, 27, was bitten on the arm by an African lion. Pete Cale, 32, was also bitten on the wrist by a black bear on Aug. 26. Both were treated at the University of Kansas Medical Center and have since been released.
The two victims were reportedly trespassing on Provance's property at the time of the attacks and had reached into the cages of the animals when they were bitten.
However, Gail Hansen, of the Center of Disease Control in Topeka, said the animals are likely to be more aggressive when caged.
Daniels said one of Provance's bears also attacked someone last year.
Due to the attacks, Leavenworth County Sheriff Herb Nye put the animals under a six-month quarantine. Nye said the animals will remain at the Provance residence, but no one will be allowed near them.
Frankie Jackson, Leavenworth County Health Department administrator, said some form of action needed to be taken to ensure the safety of the public.
"I felt very uncomfortable with the way things have played out," Jackson said.
Although the regulations could toughen the ownership of the exotic animals, the commissioners are not pursuing any avenues that would ban the animals outright.
"I am not willing to say we should do away with all of them just because we have a situation where one owner may not have fulfilled his obligations," County commissioner Don Navinsky said.
Currently, there are no state laws that deal with animals that are not native to Kansas, although according to state law, owners of mountain lions, bears, wolves or cougars must obtain a possession permit.
"The state is terribly deficient in its laws," Daniels said. "It should be a statewide matter."
The commissioners also discussed the possibility of exotic pet owners obtaining a special- use permit for ownership of the animals.
Leavenworth Planning and Zoning director John Zoellner was skeptical of the idea citing problems with the enforcement of the permits.
"I agree it needs to be done, but at a much higher level," he said.
If the permits were issued, Zoellner said he would revoke the permit of any owner who had animal escape because of the danger it would pose to the public.
"A person ought to be able to sit on his front porch without being mugged by a lion," Zoellner said.