Pittsburgh council requires owners of alligators and other reptiles to register with city | TribLIVE.com

Pittsburgh council requires owners of alligators and other reptiles to register with city

Bob Bauder
Courtesy of Pittsburgh Department of Public Safety
In May, this 5-foot alligator was found loose in Beechview. It was captured and taken to Humane Animal Rescue in the East End.
Bob Bauder | Tribune-Review
Pittsburgh City Councilwoman Darlene Harris (center) with councilwomen Theresa Kail-Smith (left) and Erika Strassburger (R).

Pet owners in Pittsburgh must register alligators and other dangerous reptiles with the city under an ordinance City Council approved on Tuesday.

Councilwoman Darlene Harris, who represents the North Side and sponsored the bill, said the regulations are needed, particularly after several incidents this year of alligators being caught in city rivers and streets.

“As you know this summer there was a number of alligators that had been found, and there’s more. I know I have them in my district,” Harris said. “Also there’s poisonous snakes out there. What we want to make sure is that (the Department of) Animal Care and Control knows where they are.”

Harris said the ordinance regulates venomous snakes and large reptiles, including alligators and crocodiles. It does not include such things as turtles and snakes that are not poisonous, she said.

She amended the bill Tuesday to exclude accredited institutions and licensed animal owners, such as zoos and zoological parks.

Mayor Bill Peduto said he has yet to read the bill and has not yet decided whether to sign it.

It requires owners to provide the city’s Animal Care and Control Department with a list of each reptile they own. Owners must keep the animals in escape-proof containers and rooms and post notice on each container that a reptile is inside. Entrances to rooms and buildings housing the animals must also be posted with notice that they contain regulated reptiles.

It also requires owners and exhibitors to transport reptiles in escape-proof containers. Exhibitors must notify the city at least 48 hours in advance of an event.

A first offense could result in a fine of $300 for each pet. Repeat violators could be assessed a fine of $1,000 per reptile, according to the legislation.

At least four alligators — ranging in size from 2.5 feet to 5 feet long — were captured between May and October along the Allegheny and Monongahela rivers and streets in Beechview and Carrick.

“I thought it was necessary that people know if their neighbors have these types of reptiles,” Harris said. “What they don’t want to happen is a reptile getting loose, such as what happened in the southern part of the city, or they don’t want them coming down the river, and it’s for the protection also of those reptiles.”

Council approved the ordinance by 8-1 vote with President Bruce Kraus voting no. Kraus said he did not have enough time to fully understand the bill, which was first introduced last week.

Bob Bauder is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Bob at 412-564-3080, [email protected] or via Twitter .

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