It may soon be illegal to own an "exotic" pet in Iowa. The Iowa House endorsed the idea last night, sending it to the governor for his approval. Lions, tigers and bears could not be kept as pets in Iowa, nor could wolves, coyotes, monkeys, crocodiles. Certain types of exotic snakes and lizards would be banned, too, if the bill becomes law.
Iowans who already have those animals would be allowed to keep the pet, but would be required to pay a registration fee of as much as five-hundred dollars. Representative Todd Taylor, a Democrat from Cedar Rapids, says several animal rights groups and law enforcement agencies pushed for the ban.
"Basically, we’re going to have a good balance between animal safety and animal welfare and public safety and public welfare," Taylor says. The bill passed on an 80 to 19 vote.
Representative Betty De Boef, a Republican from What Cheer, tried to convince her colleagues to exclude foxes from the ban, on behalf of a constituent. "Foxes that this family raises, and has raised and sold on the market for over 40 years, are bred — born — on their farm, are domesticated (and) are familiar with people," she says. "They’re just as nice as a pet as a cat or a dog."
De Boef voted "no" on the bill. She says people should be allowed to choose their own pets. "I don’t know that I’d want a skunk run meet me when I came home at night, but, you know, they’ve been de-scented," De Boef says. "…We can all find a story of some dog that has been dangerous or has bit a kid."
Bill backers said there have been too many cases where pet owners have dumped their exotic pets once the pet matured and became unmanageable.