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Debate Brews Over Exotic Pet Rules | News

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Debate Brews Over Exotic Pet Rules
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Debate Brews Over Exotic Pet Rules

LAS VEGAS --  Exotic animals kept in Clark County could be subject to new, stricter regulations. The county wants to tighten up the rules about owning wild animals after two chimpanzee escapes in the northwest valley.

Exotic Pets at Decatur Boulevard and Smoke Ranch Road sells rare animals. The owner of the pet store, Ken Foose, is concerned how the county crackdown could impact his business.

"Are they going to try to regulate animals that are potentially life-threatening, or are they going to try to regulate all exotic animals?"

He said, if the regulations include all exotic animals, it could impact everything from gold fish to hamsters.

Foose was one of several who showed up to sound off before Clark County commissioners Wednesday.

The issue began receiving attention after two chimpanzees, C J and Buddy, escaped their cage in the northwest valley in July. Buddy was shot and killed by Metro Police. C J escaped again a few weeks later.

"I think there is some concern there about danger," said Commissioner Steve Sisolak. 

He said Clark County animal control may conduct new inspections of its own and send out alerts.

"The neighbors should know that you have exotic animals. As it stands, currently, your neighbors don't even know that you have tigers or a lion in the backyard," he said.

"It's sort of a knee jerk reaction. They feel like they have to do something," said Scott Shoemaker, the founder of the group Responsible Exotic Animal Ownership. "You're holding exotics to a different standard than you're holding your domestic animals when they're both doing the same thing."

Shoemaker points out there are "20 to 30 deaths" a year by dogs.

Foose hopes a reasonable solution can be worked out.

"This is not an epidemic. This is not a major problem. This isn't really something that we really need to work on," Foose said.

The Humane Society of the United States has called for change noting that Nevada is one of only six states that doesn't have a law banning private possession of dangerous, wild animals. The county will take up the issue again on Oct. 3.

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