Mice vs. Butte city ordinance: 1977 law catches up to pet store owner

Posted by Big Rat on Campus on Jan 19, 2014 in Rat Answers | Subscribe

Mark Dawson has been selling mice and rats at his pet shop in Butte for 17 years, mostly as meals for people’s pet snakes, with not a word from any official of any type.

That changed on Dec. 20, he says, when someone with Butte-Silver Bow Animal Control walked into his “Fish Bowl” pet store at 1369 Harrison Ave. and told him he could no longer sell the rodents as of Jan. 1.

A new state or local law didn’t go into effect that day, it was just the sudden enforcement of an ordinance that’s been on Butte’s books since 1977.

“She told me one of the kids got bit by one of my rats, and I said, ‘Well, nobody handles my rats here, nobody other than the people who work for me.’”

Now, Dawson says, business has plummeted. He figures a third of his sales are in rats and mice, and he’s not selling any snakes now either because — well — he can’t sell their best meals.

“My shop has gone dead,” said Dawson, a Butte native who says he’s had a licensed pet store here for 22 years. “I do get people coming in buying pet food but the people who own the snakes and reptiles, those are the clientele that spend more money.

“I don’t know where they’re buying their stuff now but they’re not buying local,” he said, adding that his was the only store left in town selling mice.

AN AMENDMENT

Ed Randall, county director of community enrichment and animal control, said it is not his department’s intention to put Dawson or anyone else out of business.

And Butte-Silver Bow Commissioner Brendan McDonough has taken a first step in trying to change the ordinance so mice and rats can be sold as “feeders.”

But Randall says for now, the ordinance says what it says.

“We had a situation where someone was bitten by a rat and we determined where they got the rat and we do have the ordinance,” Randall said. “It may be a bit antiquated.”

The 1977 ordinance says it is unlawful for anyone to “sell, offer for sale, harbor, raise or give away mice or rats as pets, toys, premiums, novelties or for any other purpose … or to bring them to Butte-Silver Bow.”

There is an exception for keeping them in proper facilities for legitimate scientific projects.

Randall said after the reported biting incident, his office talked to a county attorney about the ordinance and visited Dawson’s business. But the law was on the books.

“But having said that, we need to look at it,” Randall said.

He said he wants to maintain sound animal control laws and officials do not want people to have multiple mice and rats as pets — something that many cities prohibit.

But he said his department wants to work with Butte-Silver Bow commissioners in trying to change the law so it would allow for the kind of feeders Dawson has been selling.

McDonough, whose district includes Dawson’s store, sent a letter to the Council and Chief Executive Matt Vincent this week asking the ordinance be changed so it allows pet shops or licensed businesses to sell rats and mice as “feeders.”

“This is just one of those instances that you never pay attention to or never think of,” McDonough said. “He (Dawson) has been doing this a long time and nobody has ever said anything to him about it.”

MINOR CHANGE

McDonough said it could take up to six weeks to change the ordinance, even though he and some others he has talked with think it’s a minor change.

“Either you have to stop (selling) all the way, and that doesn’t make sense, or you amend the ordinance, and I think that’s reasonable,” he said.

Dawson said he appreciates the efforts now, he just wishes he could have gotten more than a 10-day grace period so something could be worked out.

He enjoys owning his business and he’s employed several people from Butte over the years, but says he doesn’t make a lot of money.

Even if the law is changed, he figures a lot of previous regular customers won’t come back.

They’ve probably found another source of rodents for their snakes, he said, even though that source too would have to be illegal in Butte, and is probably not a licensed business.

In the meantime, he now has a few hundred mice on hand and about 50 rats, but none of them is going out the door.

“I spend my money here and I pay my taxes here and I don’t understand why the law is the way it is and why this after 37 years,” Dawson said.

Reach Smith at mike.smith@mtstandard.com or 496-5511.

Article source: http://mtstandard.com/news/local/mice-vs-butte-city-ordinance-law-catches-up-to-pet/article_c60a2246-80c0-11e3-8397-0019bb2963f4.html

Tags: , , , , ,

Mice vs. Butte city ordinance: 1977 law catches up to pet store owner

Posted by Big Rat on Campus on Jan 19, 2014 in Rat Answers | Subscribe

Mark Dawson has been selling mice and rats at his pet shop in Butte for 17 years, mostly as meals for people’s pet snakes, with not a word from any official of any type.

That changed on Dec. 20, he says, when someone with Butte-Silver Bow Animal Control walked into his “Fish Bowl” pet store at 1369 Harrison Ave. and told him he could no longer sell the rodents as of Jan. 1.

A new state or local law didn’t go into effect that day, it was just the sudden enforcement of an ordinance that’s been on Butte’s books since 1977.

“She told me one of the kids got bit by one of my rats, and I said, ‘Well, nobody handles my rats here, nobody other than the people who work for me.’”

Now, Dawson says, business has plummeted. He figures a third of his sales are in rats and mice, and he’s not selling any snakes now either because — well — he can’t sell their best meals.

“My shop has gone dead,” said Dawson, a Butte native who says he’s had a licensed pet store here for 22 years. “I do get people coming in buying pet food but the people who own the snakes and reptiles, those are the clientele that spend more money.

“I don’t know where they’re buying their stuff now but they’re not buying local,” he said, adding that his was the only store left in town selling mice.

AN AMENDMENT

Ed Randall, county director of community enrichment and animal control, said it is not his department’s intention to put Dawson or anyone else out of business.

And Butte-Silver Bow Commissioner Brendan McDonough has taken a first step in trying to change the ordinance so mice and rats can be sold as “feeders.”

But Randall says for now, the ordinance says what it says.

“We had a situation where someone was bitten by a rat and we determined where they got the rat and we do have the ordinance,” Randall said. “It may be a bit antiquated.”

The 1977 ordinance says it is unlawful for anyone to “sell, offer for sale, harbor, raise or give away mice or rats as pets, toys, premiums, novelties or for any other purpose … or to bring them to Butte-Silver Bow.”

There is an exception for keeping them in proper facilities for legitimate scientific projects.

Randall said after the reported biting incident, his office talked to a county attorney about the ordinance and visited Dawson’s business. But the law was on the books.

“But having said that, we need to look at it,” Randall said.

He said he wants to maintain sound animal control laws and officials do not want people to have multiple mice and rats as pets — something that many cities prohibit.

But he said his department wants to work with Butte-Silver Bow commissioners in trying to change the law so it would allow for the kind of feeders Dawson has been selling.

McDonough, whose district includes Dawson’s store, sent a letter to the Council and Chief Executive Matt Vincent this week asking the ordinance be changed so it allows pet shops or licensed businesses to sell rats and mice as “feeders.”

“This is just one of those instances that you never pay attention to or never think of,” McDonough said. “He (Dawson) has been doing this a long time and nobody has ever said anything to him about it.”

MINOR CHANGE

McDonough said it could take up to six weeks to change the ordinance, even though he and some others he has talked with think it’s a minor change.

“Either you have to stop (selling) all the way, and that doesn’t make sense, or you amend the ordinance, and I think that’s reasonable,” he said.

Dawson said he appreciates the efforts now, he just wishes he could have gotten more than a 10-day grace period so something could be worked out.

He enjoys owning his business and he’s employed several people from Butte over the years, but says he doesn’t make a lot of money.

Even if the law is changed, he figures a lot of previous regular customers won’t come back.

They’ve probably found another source of rodents for their snakes, he said, even though that source too would have to be illegal in Butte, and is probably not a licensed business.

In the meantime, he now has a few hundred mice on hand and about 50 rats, but none of them is going out the door.

“I spend my money here and I pay my taxes here and I don’t understand why the law is the way it is and why this after 37 years,” Dawson said.

Reach Smith at mike.smith@mtstandard.com or 496-5511.

Article source: http://mtstandard.com/news/local/mice-vs-butte-city-ordinance-law-catches-up-to-pet/article_c60a2246-80c0-11e3-8397-0019bb2963f4.html

Tags: , , , , ,

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Copyright © 2017 RatChatter All rights reserved.
RatChatter v1.0 theme from BuyNowShop.com.