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Owner Of Escaped Alligator Had Dozens Of Other Animals Confiscated By Authorities

The city of Pittsburgh confiscated more than 30 exotic and domestic animals from a home in Beechview Tuesday. 

The animals include three alligators, five turtles, four hairless rats, two Burmese pythons, six rabbits and four quail.

“All of the animals are in poor condition,” said Dr. Ariella Samson, Chief Veterinary Officer of Human Animal Rescue in a press release. “One Chinese water dragon was deceased on arrival, but our staff is working overtime to get the rest of the animals checked in and housed humanely.”

Most of the animals were taken to Humane Animal Rescue’s Wildlife Center in Penn Hills, though a venomous rattlesnake went to the Pittsburgh Zoo and PPG Aquarium.

View this post on Instagram Today, Pittsburgh Animal Control & @pghpolice seized 33 animals living in poor conditions, from the owner of Chomp— one of our recent alligator residents. Our staff are working to get these animals the medical attention they need, and the humane living arrangements that they deserve. The animals (all in poor condition) seized include: 3 Alligators 2 Guinea Pigs 6 Rabbits 1 Rattlesnake (sent to Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium) 5 Yellow Belly Sliders (under 4 inches) 4 Quail 4 Hairless Rats 1 Granite Burmese Python 1 Burmese Python 2 Green Iquanas 3 Chinese Water Dragons (one arrived deceased) 1 Nile Monitor Lizard We will post updates as they become available. A post shared by Humane Animal Rescue (@harsaveslives) on Jun 11, 2019 at 4:33pm PDT

Humane Animal Rescue CEO Dan Rossi said the facility isn’t quite set up to care for such exotic animals.

“So it was a real treasure hunt around our facility trying to find proper caging, heat lamps, baby pools, things along those lines,” he said. “Getting animals like this in these conditions has really taken up a lot of our staff time and a lot of our resources that typically go for dogs and cats and bunnies in our care, so this does have a stressor just financially on our organization as well.”

According Humane Animal Rescue, the animals’ owner is the same person who told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette his pet alligator, Chomp, escaped last week.

Chomp was the third alligator found roaming the streets of Pittsburgh in the last month. Rossi said the gators will spend some time at a zoo in New Jersey before making their way to an alligator sanctuary in Florida. But he said it’s unclear whether the zoo and sanctuary will have room for the three new alligators recently seized.

In the meantime, City Councilwoman Darlene Harris is gearing up to introduce legislation to regulate keeping exotic animals as pets in Pittsburgh. Harris stressed that she’s been working on the bill for around nine months.

“I did not start this because of the alligators that have just been found, but this has been a thing that my district has some of these animals in it,” Harris said.

Mayor Bill Peduto said he’s supportive of such an effort.

“We’ve had ordinances regarding dogs that go back all the way into the early 1820s,” he said. “The city has a long history of having rules and regulations as it pertains to pets, whether they’re exotic or domestic.”

State law does allow people to own alligators and other exotic animals, as long as they obtain a permit and do not release them into the wild.

According to a GoFundMe campaign set up to raise money to “bring Chomp home,” his owner Mark McGowan was licensed to own the alligator and used him for educational purposes.

Dan Rossi of Humane Animal Rescue said people should think long and hard before purchasing or adopting an exotic animal like an alligator.

“An alligator in captivity can live 30 to 50 years,” he said.