Arlington, Virginia bans future ownership of exotic animals as pets

Do I look like a house cat? You jest be joking…

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

But hedgehogs and nonvenomous snakes are permitted.

The measure however, contains a grandfather clause that allows existing pets to stay.

“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 Animal Welfare League of Arlington.

A $250-a-day fine will be imposed for anyone violating the new provisions, rising to $500-a-day for second and further offenses.

A majority of Northern Virginia areas have enacted exotic-pet ordinances, though several including Loudoun County and Alexandria do not.

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