The Pet Tree House - Where Pets Are Family Too : Arlington, Virginia: Owners of Exotic Species as Companion Animals Are Allowed to Keep Them

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Arlington, Virginia: Owners of Exotic Species as Companion Animals Are Allowed to Keep Them

Arlington, VA - Owners of snakes, panthers and crocodiles: If you already claim a wild and exotic species as a companion animal in this famously liberal suburb, you get to keep them.

If you’ve dawdled over choosing between a skunk or a bobcat, however, you’re out of luck.

The Arlington County Board Tuesday night banned the ownership of a whole variety of species — primates, raccoons, wolves or wolf hybrids, coyotes, squirrels, foxes, leopards, tigers, lions (even in Lyon Park), bears, wildcats, ratites (a diverse group of large, flightless birds), venomous snakes, and certain scorpions, centipedes and spiders.

Hedgehogs are permitted, as are nonvenomous snakes.

“What began as a seemingly straightforward effort to ban exotic pets in Arlington became much more complex and nuanced as the process evolved,” Arlington County Board Chair Jay Fisette said in a statement.

“Ultimately, through a lot of conversation with the community, we were able to adopt a Code amendment that reaches a practical balance of the input received from all sides and is enforceable.”

The county in February first proposed the ban, but it was delayed due to an outcry from pet owners and the state, which pointed out many of the creatures Arlington sought to ban or register were already prohibited.

The change allows Arlington officials to enforce the ban, and require registration of existing exotic pets through the Arlington Animal Welfare League.

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