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Sioux Falls exotic pet ordinance to be revisited

SIOUX FALLS (AP) -- Sioux Falls animal control officials are working to update the city's exotic pet ordinance, saying the rule is broad and needs clarification.

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SIOUX FALLS (AP) - Sioux Falls animal control officials are working to update the city's exotic pet ordinance, saying the rule is broad and needs clarification.

Local reptile owners grew concerned earlier this month after Animal Control visited a Sioux Falls family to notify them their snakes weren't allowed in city limits, the Argus Leader reported.

The current ordinance says it's unlawful to own an animal that isn't native to the United States. It also limits pets per household to four, with exceptions for fish and fowl, but not small reptiles, hamsters, turtles or other small, caged animals.

Animal Control has started working with the city attorney's office to update the exotic pet ordinance.

Julie DeJong, the city's animal control supervisor, said her department plans to meet with reptile experts, veterinarians, city departments and the South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks department over the next few weeks.

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"The ordinance needs to protect the health, safety and welfare of the public, which are our primary concerns," DeJong said.

City councilors have said they're on board to discuss the issue.

Councilor Greg Neitzert said he's interested in seeing the city legalize commonly-kept reptiles and other animals that are technically barred under the ordinance.

"As our community evolves and we have different types of pets, we need to be mindful of our ordinances and making sure that they make sense and that we're safe," said Councilor Christine Erickson. "At first glance, based on those definitions, there are a lot of animals that are not allowed in our community."

Erickson said that venomous or potentially dangerous animals shouldn't be under the same category as docile lizards, such as bearded dragons.

"We need to bring in the experts and get the facts and making sure we aren't taking animals from people's homes," Erickson said.

The city hasn't scheduled a time to discuss an ordinance update yet.

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