Chief Executive: Mice law change sought

Posted by Big Rat on Campus on Jan 21, 2014 in Rat Answers | Subscribe

Chief Executive Matt Vincent wants an immediate exception made to a 1977 ordinance so a Butte pet shop owner can resume selling live mice and rats as snake food like he has for 17 years.

Vincent said Monday he is asking the county attorney and animal control department to “do whatever we need to do” to get an exception so Mark Dawson can sell the rodents at his “Fish Bowl” pet store on Harrison Avenue until the law can be changed outright.

Vincent said Butte-Silver Bow commissioners may be able to act on an exception during their meeting Wednesday night.

The animal control department told Dawson on Dec. 20 he had to quit selling the mice and rats as of Jan. 1 because of an ordinance enacted in 1977 that forbids it.

Ed Randall, director of community enrichment and animal control, said a child was bitten by a rat and they traced it back to Dawson’s shop and had no choice but to enforce the ordinance.

But Dawson said the department never showed him any paperwork on an alleged biting incident, and regardless, the sudden enforcement of the ordinance has caused business at his store to plummet.

Vincent said that is not what the county intended.

“Obviously we want to create an atmosphere that is going to allow our pet stores to flourish, not flounder,” he said.

Petco, a national chain of pet stores, recently said it plans to open a store in Butte this summer.

Butte-Silver Bow Commissioner Brendan McDonough wants to change the ordinance so mice and rats can be sold as “feeders.” He got the issue placed on the council agenda for this Wednesday but said it could take six weeks to change the law.

Vincent doesn’t want to wait that long and says there should be a way to grant an immediate exception until the law can be changed.

Dawson said Monday an exception would be a good thing and that Vincent had called him about seeking one. But, Dawson said, “I don’t know if I’m going to be able to recoup my customers.”

He said he is starting to get “overrun” by mice and rats because even though he separated males from females a few weeks ago, some of the rodents already were pregnant.

“They jumped the gun and rushed in and made a bad decision,” Dawson said of the county. “Until I can get something in writing we’re stuck. It’s costing me thousands of dollars.”

Reach Smith at or 406-496-5511.

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