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Old 06-30-03, 09:37 PM   #1 (permalink)
Join Date: Jun-2003
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Reptile Ban..May 03 city Meeting

(Report: May 9/03, File No.: 8060-20-7504) (REDMS No. 1003845, 980293)

Ms. Bittel briefly reviewed the changes which had been made to the proposed bylaw amendment as a result of the April 22nd, 2003 General Purposes Committee meeting.

Discussion then ensued among Committee members and staff on the proposed bylaw amendments.

Questions were raised about the feasibility of using colour-coded cards with standard messages to alert the public to specific issues relating to reptiles, such as the potential to contract salmonella. Advice was given that the bylaw did not include such a requirement, however, the comment was made that the use of colour-coded cards could be reviewed in the future.

A question was raised about education and whether there was any way to ensure that information provided by pet stores on reptiles was accurate to ensure that potential purchasers were aware that the reptile in question could conceivably grow bigger than predicted. In response, advice was given that the proposed bylaw amendment required that a reptile notice contain information which indicated among other things, ‘the maximum natural life‑span of the reptile’. Reference was made however to the potential length of an adult snake which could be greater than stated in the notice, and a brief discussion ensued on how staff would ensure that the information provided on the reptile notice was true and correct.

Cllr. Sue Halsey-Brandt, while commending staff on the development of the bylaw amendment now being considered, stated that the bylaw did not deal adequately with abandoned and unwanted animals. She further stated that Council had to consider the future needs of these animals. She noted that Richmond did not have a facility to care for unwanted animals, and that the SPCA only had a limited capacity to care for such creatures. Because the bylaw did not address the future of these animals, Cllr. Halsey-Brandt stated that she would not be supporting the proposed amendments.

Mr. Peter Fricker, Campaign Coordinator for the Vancouver Humane Society, expressed disappointment that the Committee had not accepted the original staff recommendations. He then commented on the proposed amendments, stating that the proposal to limit the sale of reptiles to those which had been captive-bred could be impossible to enforce as there was no reliable way to determine if the reptile had been captive-bred or caught in the wild. Mr. Fricker stated that he supported the inclusion of red-eared slider turtles and iguanas on the list of prohibited animals, however, he recommended that the lizard known as the “Bearded Dragon” be added to this list, suggesting that the ‘Bearded Dragon’ could become the next red-eared slider turtle and be abandoned into the wild. He also suggested that the proposals regarding the provision of information on salmonella were inadequate and commented that salmonella was not the only disease which could be contracted from reptiles.

Mr. Fricker stated that the proposed bylaw amendments only applied to the sale of reptiles and noted that people could go outside Richmond to purchase these animals. He suggested that a bylaw should be considered which prohibited the keeping of reptiles. At the conclusion of his presentation, Mr. Fricker circulated information material to Committee members on “Reptiles: Zoonoses” and “Adenoviruses in Reptiles”, copies of which are on file in the City Clerk’s Office.

Ms. Cherie Simmons, Store Manager, Super Pet, accompanied by Ms. Caroline Way, a reptile expert, spoke in support of the staff report, but questioned the status of those animals presently sold by the store which would be prohibited from sale following adoption of the proposed bylaw amendment. She further advised that Super Pet was considering the establishment of an adoption process for all unwanted and abandoned animals, and she questioned whether a regulation which would require all pet stores to have an animal adoption process in place could be incorporated into the bylaw amendment now being considered.

Reference was made to comments made by the previous speaker about bearded dragons becoming a problem, and Ms. Way voiced the opinion that these reptiles could not survive in Richmond’s environment if they were released into the wild. She added that these reptiles preferred fruit and vegetables to live rodents. Reference was made to the list of prohibited animals, and Ms. Way questioned whether ‘new world tarantulas’ would be permitted.

Discussion then ensued among Committee members and the delegation on (i) how to avoid contracting diseases, such as salmonella, as a result of handling reptiles; (ii) the rationale for the increase in popularity of reptiles over the past fifteen years or so; (iii) the need of the SPCA to recognize that reptiles were animals too and required appropriate facilities; and (iv) the availability of veterinarians to care for sick and injured reptiles.

Ms. Christine Schramm, representing the Rainforest Reptile Refuge Society, Surrey, expressed disappointment that there would not be a total ban on the sale of exotic animals. She added that it was good to see some of the reptiles on the ‘prohibited list’ but stated that it would not prevent the sale of smaller reptiles. Ms. Schramm spoke about the destruction of the environment caused by red-eared slider turtles in local ponds, and she expressed concern that bearded dragons could be a problem waiting to happen. She also spoke about the inability of the SPCA to provide proper facilities and the lack of expertise to deal with abandoned and unwanted reptiles. In concluding her statements, Ms. Schramm stated that she believed that reptiles should not be kept as pets and that a majority of the reptiles being sold had initially been found in the wild.

At the request of the Chair, Ms. Bittel made the following comments in response to questions asked by the previous delegations:

Adoption process for prohibited reptiles – the suggestion was made that the situation be monitored to determine if a problem arose; as well, the West Coast Preservation and Conservation of Reptiles had indicated to Ms. Bittel that they handled the adoption of reptiles;

Status of animals listed on the ‘prohibited list’ following adoption of the bylaw – advice was given that once the bylaw had been adopted, pet stores would be unable to sell these reptiles; the owners would have to find someone to adopt the reptiles in question or relocate the animals to another store outside of Richmond;

The feasibility of including an adoption process requirement in the proposed bylaw amendment – the bylaw only prohibited the sale of certain animals and would not prevent a pet store operator from allowing the adoption of animals;

Prohibition of the sale of certain arachnids – the definition of a venomous animal was read to the Committee, and advice was given that spiders which were venomous but whose bite would not be seriously harmful or fatal could be sold by pet stores;

Bearded Dragons – advice was given that these reptiles had not shown up in Ms. Bittel’s research as being a problem, however, these reptiles could be monitored to determine if a problem arose in the future.

Salmonella not the only disease contracted from reptiles – advice was given that Ms. Bittel was aware that there were other diseases which could be contracted from reptiles, however she understood that the precautions to prevent the spread of disease were the same as those to prevent salmonella.

It was moved and seconded

That Bylaw No. 7504, which amends Business Regulation Bylaw No. 7148 to clarify the regulations regarding the sale of exotic animals, be introduced and given first, second and third readings.

The question on the motion was not called, as the Chair requested that:

staff contact the SPCA about:

whether the SPCA ever received reptiles which were no longer wanted by their owners or found abandoned;

what steps the SPCA took to care for these reptiles; and

whether bearded dragons were becoming a problem; and

the Staff Solicitor report to the Committee in October of 2003 on the outcome of the discussions with the SPCA.

Staff were also requested to have discussions with the West Coast Society for the Preservation and Conservation of Reptiles on the types of reptiles being received by that organization, and to include the results of those discussions in the October report.

Cllr. Sue Halsey-Brandt spoke about the need to find a way of providing funding to the SPCA, the Rainforest Reptile Refuge Society and other organizations who provided assistance to abandoned reptiles through the establishment of an additional fee payable at the time a reptile was sold. However, the Chair ruled that this was a separate issue which should be dealt with after the adoption of the motion now on the floor.

The question on the motion was then called, and it was CARRIED with Cllr. S. Halsey-Brandt opposed.

Cllr. Sue Halsey-Brandt then introduced a motion which dealt with the establishment of an additional fee attached to the purchase price of reptiles to raise funds for reptile refuges, however, there was no seconder, and the matter did not proceed any further.


It was moved and seconded

That the meeting adjourn (5:20 p.m.).


Certified a true and correct copy of the Minutes of the meeting of the General Purposes Committee of the Council of the City of Richmond held on Tuesday, May 20th, 2003.


Mayor Malcolm D. Brodie
Fran J. Ashton
Executive Assistant, City Clerk’s Office

05.21.03 15:58
Herpetoculturist and Hobby Breeder
Kerry Woolacott
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