Exotic rule: Dealing with pot-bellied pigs and snakes

Posted by Big Rat on Campus on Jun 4, 2014 in Rat Answers | Subscribe

Roy Slezak

Roy Slezak

In our great wisdom as a progressive municipality and a vision for the future, the Rio Rancho City Council in the early 1990s decided that we should regulate pets that didn’t meet the normal dog and cat pet stereotype.

So we decided, at staff’s recommendation, to allow for exotic-type pets by issuing exotic animal permits in certain circumstances. The permits would have to be approved by the council and certain animals would be excluded from the city proper.

The first case that I remember was whether we should allow Vietnamese pigs within the city limits. The discussion was not very long and I even made a joke about it and had the quote of the week, according to the Observer, when I stated that, “Once you let the pigs in, you never know what will follow.” After we voted not to allow the pigs to take over our city, we promptly took a break.

During the break, a young girl, no more than 12, came to Councilor Tony Popper and I in tears because she owned a pot-bellied pig and we had just made it illegal to have one within the city limits. My joke wasn’t so funny to me anymore as this girl pleaded her case with tears running down her cheeks. Councilor Popper was the first to respond and said what I was thinking: “Young lady, we really don’t want to know that you have a pig, just don’t tell anyone” and he winked at her. She got the message and her tears stopped.

Councilor Popper saw how bad I felt about making the young lady cry over her pig and got even with me at the next meeting by presenting me with a piggy bank filled with nickels. Councilor Popper always liked practical jokes and since he sat next to me, I often bore the brunt of his jokes. I always appreciated Tony as he was often times presenting a view we never thought of on an issue, and he could also laugh at himself. Tony worked hard to make our city better and when we lost him, we lost a gem and someone who really cared about his community.

A second incident with exotic animal permits involved a gentleman who was raising boa constrictors at his home in my district, District 5. We asked all the questions we had, but I was not satisfied and wanted to inspect the property and see how he kept the snakes contained.

Councilors Cal Mowry, Popper and I visited the home of the applicant and he showed us his setup. I have to say we were quite impressed. Although I am not a fan of snakes, it was obvious that this applicant took great care in making sure that snakes could not get loose and had built the enclosures himself.

Then I asked the million dollar question. I asked the gentleman what he fed the snakes. He promptly went to his freezer and pulled out what he said was a frozen rat that he bought from a supplier. He then stated that he also fed the snakes live rats. I asked the obvious question, “Where do you get the live rats?”

The applicant took us to the garage and I think we all looked at each other as we saw a cage that contained hundreds of live rats. All I could picture in my mind was this cage being knocked over and rats running all over the neighborhood. I promptly let the applicant know that the rats had to go but that the snakes could stay pending a vote by the council, with an inspection of the property every six months.

These were a couple of the more interesting things that came before us on the council and reminded me of the story I heard about chickens being released in Mayor Grover Nash’s backyard a few years earlier.

I was just hoping that the rats wouldn’t show up in my backyard after the vote.

(Roy Slezak, a former Rio Rancho city councilor, returned to the City of Vision after living in the Grand Canyon State for a decade or so. He has authored several books.)


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