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Tuesday, Aug. 7, 2012 | 4:35 p.m.
Reacting to the escape of two adult chimpanzees in July, which resulted in police shooting and killing one, county commissioners suggested policy changes to tighten controls on exotic pet owners in unincorporated Clark County.
The proposed changes include getting a justification letter from animal owners with an explanation as to why, as one county attorney put it, “someone need lions and tigers and bears in their backyard.”
Two chimps named Buddy and C.J. escaped July 12 from their confines at home near Ann Road and Jones Boulevard. People reported seeing the animals beating on cars and acting aggressively. Police killed Buddy; C.J. was captured.
Current county code allows the permitting of an exotic animal through a use permit, with the only requirement being that any enclosure be approved by animal control officers. Final approval is through the Planning Commission.
Under guidelines Tuesday, exotic pet owners would need approval of special use permits from the County Commission. The county also would require the property owner to be the animal’s owner and to have verifiable information of expertise in keeping the animal. There would be shade requirements for animal enclosures, with no cage stacking for animal enclosures. Annual inspections of the property also would be required.
County staff will take the guidelines and return with a draft ordinance for future consideration by commissioners, possibly in September.
Meanwhile, a bill to ban the possession of dangerous animals likely will be introduced by Sen. Mike Roberson, R-Henderson, next year in state Legislature, said Warren Hardy, who is representing The Humane Society of the United States.
Hardy said it’s not a bill to regulate ownership of exotic animals, just dangerous ones. A chimpanzee would be considered dangerous, alongside animals such as lions, tigers and bears.
Specific wording, including potential permitting for trainers or those who have legitimate reasons to own the animals, is still being drafted, Hardy added.