Butler City Council bans exotic pets from events

| Thursday, Aug. 28, 2014, 11:34 p.m.

Fans of Butler's Friday night concerts or its annual Jeep Festival stand warned — snakes, mountain lions or cougars aren't welcome.

On Thursday, Butler City Council unanimously passed an ordinance that bans exotic animals from public events. The ordinance is needed, supporters say, because people have attended outdoor summer events wearing large snakes.

“A snake belongs in a cage. A lot of our residents are petrified of this. Anyone who has a phobia, they just freak out. The events we have are for people, not for animals,” said Councilwoman Cheri Readie.

The ordinance is based on similar ordinances in Erie, Reading and Allentown.

People wearing boa constrictors or pythons have appeared at events such as Butler's Jeep Festival and at the city's Friday night summer concerts on the New Castle Street plaza, Readie said.

“They are there every time we have something on Main Street,” said Lois Keith of Butler. “Every time I go up there to enjoy myself, I can't. I am always looking over my back. I don't feel it's right.”

Keith, 56, says people wearing snakes have followed her, taunted her and allowed the snakes to swim in a fountain near the county courthouse.

“There were four people, and they all had snakes slithering around themselves. You can't do anything about it under the current law,” Readie said.

Police Chief Ronald Brown, Mayor Tom Donaldson and Readie said that they don't know the names of people with the snakes. Without an ordinance banning the practice, they couldn't be cited, officials said.

Under the ordinance, people are banned from bringing snakes, spiders and animals and reptiles with a poisonous bite or sting to parades and special events in Butler.

It bans mountain lions, cougars, ocelots, lynxes, bobcats, lions, tigers and “any other member of the cat family other than domesticated housecats.” Add to that gorillas, chimpanzees, orangutans, monkeys and gibbons.

The ordinance will go into effect on Sept. 8.

Violators will be fined no less than $25, no more than $300 and face a maximum imprisonment of 30 days.

“There's no reason why people should do this,” Donaldson said. “I do not care for snakes. It's one of those things that people don't care to have around them. The snake is more abrasive to people than dogs and other domesticated animals.”

Rick Wills is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7944 or rwills@tribweb.com.

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