Southwold Township Ban following Tiger incident
So they're bringing in an exotic animal ban, but they're excluding non-venomous snakes. Interesting.
Exotic animal ban expected
The mauling of a 10-year-old has prompted Southwold Township to move on a proposed bylaw.
PATRICK MALONEY, Free Press Reporter 2004-07-26 02:06:13
It's taken 18 months, and a vicious tiger attack on a child, for Southwold Township to move on a proposed bylaw to ban exotic animal ownership. But since the June 13 attack on the 10-year-old boy, township council has twice been over a dormant bylaw that would ban such animals, and tonight is set to approve the proposal dating back to 2003.
"After the (attack) council jumped on the bandwagon for full prohibition," Southwold Mayor Jim McIntyre said last week, noting exotic animal ownership would be fully banned in the township.
That's welcome news to Southwold residents who 18 months ago petitioned council act "before there's a tragedy."
While the young boy survived the June attack, it was the kind of incident some residents have long feared.
The unidentified boy was visiting Southwold resident Norm Buwalda with his family to take pictures of Buwalda's tigers for a school project when the owner led one big cat from its enclosure, police said.
The 350-pound tiger lunged at the boy, who was left with serious neck and head injuries.
Police concluded no charges were warranted.
A neighbour who has pushed for the animal ban for years said he'd be surprised if the township's five councillors don't approve the bylaw.
"I don't think any one of these people would ever dream of voting against it," said Dr. David Rawson.
"A 10-year-old boy is mauled by a tiger. Does this make sense to you? No, it's absolutely insane," he said.
While reluctant to lay blame, Rawson said earlier action by council could have prevented the near-tragedy.
"We need to get this done right away," he said. "Until there's a law, you can't be guilty of breaking it."
The bylaw, however, isn't as simple as it may sound.
While the big cats Buwalda keeps on his estate are the target, several township residents who breed animals that could be considered "exotic" may also be affected.
But council has drafted an extensive list qualifying the term and saying what is and isn't banned:
Among those barred would be bears, wolves, coyotes, lions, bobcats, cougars, tigers, jaguars and alligators.
The bylaw excludes elk, llama, bison, non-venomous snakes and several types of birds.
As of last Friday, Buwalda, who declined comment, still had at least two tigers caged in the driveway of his estate.
Township lawyer Mark Shields was unavailable but recently told the St. Thomas Times-Journal the township will go "full-steam ahead" with enforcement.
"If the law is passed it will be enforced and that may include higher courts," he said.
Another township, West Elgin, has passed a similar ban since the tiger attack, and London Coun. Bill Armstrong is intent on pushing for the same restriction in London.
Armstrong said while nothing dangerous has happened in London, that's all the more reason to put a ban in place.
"If (we) were proactive these accidents wouldn't happen," he said.
McIntyre said that the province should look at possibly passing an Ontario-wide ban.