Exotic Animals Now Banned in City of Nixa

By Daniel Shedd | dshedd@kolr10.com

Published 08/21 2014 10:31PM

Updated 08/21 2014 10:44PM

NIXA, Mo. -- It's now against the law to own exotic animals like wolves, bears, and kangaroos in the city of Nixa.

Before Monday's vote at city council there was no ordinance banning those pets.

The formulation of an ordinance started months ago.

The Nixa Police Department got a phone call.. asking if someone could own a kangaroo in the city.

Technically they could because there wasn't an ordinance.

But that prompted the city to start drafting a list for the future.

Dennis Harter is an expert in exotic animals.

He owns Finley Valley Serpentarium, a sanctuary in the county south of Nixa where he keeps crocodiles, alligators, and many snakes.

While he is qualified to own and handle these creatures, most people are not.

"I see it every day, people not being able to care for the animals properly," he said.

For that reason he agrees with rules in a new exotic animal ordinance in Nixa.

"They have no reasoning of how big that animal will get and how difficult it will be to maintain that animal safely in captivity," Harter said.

Some exotic snakes are still allowed if they fit certain criteria, like non-venomous snakes that are less than six feet.

But others like these more dangerous snakes are off limits.

"A python or something like that that could seriously cause harm or injury not only to a person but to other animals as well," Nixa Police Animal Control Officer BJ Sartin said.

Sartin is the guy who would have to respond if an exotic pet got loose.

"We're a one person department here with animal control so our resources are limited," he said.

He was instrumental in drafting the new animal ordinance, he said first and foremost to protect public safety.

"We had a lemur that was here visiting in our city and had bit a child at a football game," Sartin said, "There's several different things that could happen."

While he handles mostly dog calls, these new rules are a preventative measure.

He hopes people leave crocodiles and alligators to the experts.

Most other cities like Springfield already have ordinances in place banning exotic pets.

The new Nixa ordinance is attached to this story.

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