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Published: Thursday, 10/3/2002

Snake owner finds tepid B.G. support

BOWLING GREEN - Nikki Badman said she's prepared to do anything to bring her pets home.

If that means gathering signatures to put the issue to Bowling Green voters, so be it. It's not entirely clear, though, how many city residents sympathize with her desire to allow constrictor snakes up to 8 feet long to be kept as pets.

“They have a bad rap, but people are simply afraid of what they don't know,” said Ms. Badman, an animal technologist at Bowling Green State University.

She and other members of the university's Herpetology Club keep their snakes at BGSU's Herpetarium, where the reptiles are permitted by city ordinance.

City Council has been quietly pondering the issue since March when Ms. Badman and other snake enthusiasts made a pitch for changing the city's 1983 ordinance governing wild and dangerous animals. The law bans the keeping of all poisonous and constrictor snakes.

The issue was referred to council's community improvement committee, which has been gathering information for several months, said Council President B.J. Fischer.

“To be candid, I don't think there's a lot of enthusiasm for it,” Mr. Fischer said. “We do owe those folks an answer, though. We can't just let it die.”

The committee, which is scheduled to meet at 7:30 p.m. Monday, could recommend City Council change the ordinance or recommend it do no such thing. Mr. Fischer said members of the public are welcome to address the committee Monday, but only if they have new information to bring forward.

He said that so far, council members have been slow to embrace the idea of allowing constrictor snakes in homes. The police chief opposes the idea on the grounds they can escape and slither into neighboring apartments. The Humane Society of the United States also opposes it because it feels snakes make poor pets because of their special needs.

“The concerns council has are issues about what happens when snakes get loose and issues about the health of snakes as pets and whether or not it's appropriate for snakes to be pets,” Mr. Fischer said.

Ms. Badman said snakes have gotten a bad rap, saying they are in fact a low-maintenance pet that are great for kids with asthma and allergies. Police receive far more complaints about dogs and cats, she said.

“We have allergies in my house. We can't have cats and dogs and birds,” she said. “We like snakes. They're the easiest pet in the world to take care of. They eat, at the most, once a week. Some of the larger ones you feed once a month, and they only defecate as much as they eat.”

Her group is prepared to begin an initiative petition to change the local law if necessary. “I will do whatever it takes,” she said. “If I have to live here, I don't see why I should have to live without my pets. People's dogs [defecate] in my yard, but I can't have a snake in a glass aquarium.”



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