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Alligator evicted from student's apartment

Ordinance prohibits keeping dangerous animals

Carla McCann /Janesville Gazette

Donna Lenz Wright/The Week

(Published Thursday, May 10, 2007 10:52:47 AM CST)

About once a year, Whitewater police find a UW-Whitewater student harboring an exotic pet.

It happened again Tuesday, May 8, when police followed a tip to an apartment on North Fremont Street.

The renter was sharing his home with a 3-foot alligator, Chief James Coan said.

The pet owner was ordered to find another home for the reptile, Coan said.

Coan declined to release the name of the renter, saying the case remains under investigation.

The city in 2005 adopted an ordinance prohibiting dangerous animals, including alligators and certain snakes. The ordinance was passed after police executed a drug-related search warrant and found a 4-foot alligator in a fraternity house, Coan said.

Last year, a 19-year-old student was treated at Whitewater Mercy Medical Center for an alligator bite on his finger.

He had been visiting friends at an apartment on West Carriage Drive in Whitewater when he was bitten while trying to lift the 3-foot pet from its enclosure.

The owner was cited and ordered to remove the alligator from the city, Coan said.

In all three of the incidents, the owners were cautioned about not releasing their reptiles in Cravath or Tripp Lakes or Whitewater Creek, Coan said.

"We're very clear that these alligators are not to be just released into the wild," Coan said. "We need to be assured that the alligators will be taken outside of the city."

People violating the city's dangerous animal ordinance face a $250 fine.

Additional charges and fines could be levied if the animal is endangered, poses a health risk or was bought illegally, Coan said.

"In some cases, the animals grow too quickly and/or become unmanageable to the owners," Coan said. "The animals may also pose a heath and safety risk to the owners and to the general public if they escape their enclosures.

"It should be remembered," he said, "that these animals are wild by nature and usually do not make good pets."


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