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Town will require owners of exotic pets to get license

Ravenswood residents will have to come up with a little extra cash if they want to become owners of exotic pets.

At their regular meeting Tuesday night, city council members passed an ordinance that prohibits residents from owning any exotic animals without first obtaining a license and paying a fee to the city.

The new ordinance follows a three-week ordeal that began in May when town resident Ty Donohew discovered his 9-foot python had gone missing from his Gallatin Street home.

Despite assurances the snake wouldn't attack people or pets, surrounding residents were fearful.

In the end, the snake was found dead underneath a neighbor's house, having apparently succumbed to cold overnight temperatures within a few days of going missing.

Mayor Lucy Harbert said following the incident that city leaders were pressured to reassure citizens the situation wouldn't happen again.

"When we had that python that escaped, people were just frantic and they thought we should have known that this animal was in the city limits," she said. 

The new ordinance will make it unlawful for residents to own panthers, wildcats, bobcats, bears, venomous or constricting snakes, skunks that do not have their perinea glands removed, or any other "wild animal of a species normally dangerous to human beings," without first obtaining a license and paying a fee to the city.

Harbert said the reasoning behind the ordinance is to make sure officials are aware of the types of animals within city limits so they can take the proper steps in the event an animal escapes.

"We're not saying they can't have these exotic pets; we just want to be aware of it," she said.

"We're just trying to protect our citizens."

Those who own or want to own the animals described in the ordinance are now required to register the animals at city hall and pay a fee of $50. 

Should someone be found to own one of the animals covered by the ordinance without a license, they will have to pay a $100-per-day fine until they obtain the license. 

The new ordinance went into effect following its passage Tuesday night. 

Contact writer Jared Hunt at or 304-348-5148.



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