Forget about owning a wolf, bobcat, or raccoon in Loudoun County.
The county banned ownership of certain exotic and venomous species of animals that present a risk to public health and safety. The Loudoun County supervisors also banned the breeding of exotic animals last month.
Here’s how the county ordinance defines the banned animals:
“Wild or exotic animal” means any live non-human primate, raccoon, skunk, wolf or hybrid canine, coyote, squirrel, fox, leopard, panther, tiger, lion, cheetah, bear, wild cat (e.g., bobcat, lynx and caracal, serval, ocelot), crocodilian (e.g. alligators, caimans, gavials) venomous snake, venomous reptile, scorpions (other than those in the genus Pandinus); widow, recluse, funnel-web, banana/wandering, sand or trapdoor spiders and tarantulas (except those native to North or South America and the Mexican redknee variety) or any other warm-blooded mammal or marsupial that can normally be found in a wild state.”
Excluded from the measure are “domestically bred or legally imported birds, ratites, non-venomous snakes, non-venomous reptiles, rear-fanged snakes, amphibians, fish, ferrets, rabbits, rats, mice, gerbils, chinchillas, hedgehogs, sugar gliders, and guinea pigs which have been bred in captivity.”
The Loudoun County supervisors agreed to let people who already own exotic animals keep them, provided the owners register with the county, in order for first responders to know about them. Owners have until May 8 to register their animals.
Licensed exhibitors, animal rehabilitators, and veterinary clinics that are properly licensed are exempt.
The adoption of the ordinance came after public meetings, a public comment period, and recommendations from Loudoun County Animal Services, the latest of which were made in February.
Loudoun County Animal Services said in a presentation in January that owning an exotic animal or venomous creature poses risks to public safety. The risks include the following:
- That the animal or spider would escape and inflict harm;
- That zoonotic diseases could spread;
- That first-responders would be at risk when entering homes where the animals are housed;
- That local ecosystems and wildlife would be at risk.
Neighboring jurisdictions, including Leesburg and the counties of Arlington, Fairfax, and Prince William, have similar ordinances prohibiting the ownership and breeding of exotic animals and venomous creatures.
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