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City considers exotic animal ordinance

An alligator is living in a backyard pen, and the city does not have a way to deal with it.

That could soon change.

A proposed exotic/wild animal ordinance will go before the city’s Judiciary Committee when it meets next month.

“We don’t have an ordinance related to exotics. Without an ordinance, we are not equipped to handle this. I’m asking the city to prohibit them so there are no problems,” Police Chief Tim Goke said when the committee met Monday, Sept. 12, at City Hall.

This summer the police department learned about the alligator.

“We had a complaint from a neighbor concerned about having an alligator outside,” Goke said.

The alligator is more than four feet long and is being kept outside in a pen, he said.

“It’s a block away from the Waupaca River,” Goke said.

If the alligator were to get out of the pen, there is no question where it would head.

The police chief says it would survive in the river for some time.

But, colder weather is on the horizon.

In fact, at Monday’s meeting, one committee member asked what the owner of the alligator will do when winter arrives.

Goke said Waupaca is one of the few jurisdictions that does not have an ordinance on the books to deal with exotic animals.

Some municipalities have placed a limit on how long a pet reptile – particularly in the case of snakes – can be.

Primates are also often addressed in ordinances having to do with exotic and wild animals.

“You may laugh at this,” Goke told the committee. “It’s not unusual for people to want to take on primates.”

Waupaca does not have a full-time animal control officer, and committee chairperson Deb Fenske said, “Officers should not have to walk into these situations.”

City Attorney John Hart will draft an ordinance in time for the committee’s Oct. 10 meeting.

“I think it’s a good idea,” he said. “But, the ordinance doesn’t help them if they go into a house and there is one of these animals there.”

Goke said there are people who are into exotic animals, and the city attorney will look into how to handle the situations in which people already have such animals in the city.

“There will always be someone in town with something in the basement,” Hart said.

Exoctic animals were not the only animals discussed at Monday’s meeting.

There were two agenda items related to dogs.

The first was a request from city resident Kris Henricksen that households be allowed to have three dogs.

The city’s current ordinance limits households to two dogs. There is no limit to the number of cats a household has; they just must all be licensed.

The committee is recommending that the ordinance be changed to allow households to have three dogs. It will go before the council when it meets on Tuesday, Sept. 20.

The other dog-related item discussed Monday will also go before the Common Council next week.

That is a proposed ordinance that would require dogs to be on a leash when they are on the trail system in the city.

Parks Superintendent Russ Montgomery said it has been an issue on the trail by Swan Park. Some people walk with their dogs, and the dogs are not on leashes.

Other people walking on the trail who have been approached by unfamiliar dogs are concerned, he explained.

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