PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – Pittsburgh had so many alligator sightings over the summer companies started selling t-shirts that read Gatorsburgh: City of Chomp-Yinz.
Pittsburgh City Councilwoman Darlene Harris said having these exotic animals on the loose is a significant problem and proposed an ordinance to address it. Tuesday morning, city council passed the bill by an 8-1 vote.
“I actually am thrilled that the votes have passed this piece of legislation,” said Harris after the morning vote in City Council Chambers.
The ordinance puts measures in place to oversee the care, handling and keeping of dangerous reptiles and venomous snakes.
The lone dissenting vote came from Council President Bruce Kraus.
“There are different animal rights groups that I have worked with in the past that had some concerns with it as well, too,” he said.
“As presented by the councilwoman and the haste in which it was presented, I just couldn’t in all due diligence vote to support it.”
Harris contends this is not a new issue — and is not one that is going away. She says she has been working on the ordinance for more than a year, long before the gators started to pop up on the loose around town.
“There’s more in the district,” Harris says. “In fact, I know that I have them in my district. Also there’s poisonous snakes out there and what we want to make sure is that Animal Care and Control knows where they are.”
The critters in question — including but not limited to crocodiles, alligators and poisonous snakes — now must be registered with Animal Control and Care. Each tank or cage must be clearly labeled as to the type of animal it contains, as well as the door into the room where the animals are held.
New fines will be in place for those who violate the policy. Zoos and other accredited organizations and traveling exhibits are exempt.
Harris says there are other exemptions, too: “This doesn’t apply to someone’s little turtle or salamander and snakes that they have that are non-venomous.”
Council President Bruce Kraus said one of the main reasons he voted against it was how quickly the measure moved through Pittsburgh City Council. The final proposal of the ordinance was presented to City Council last week.