Nevada Senate bill would ban keeping dangerous animals as pets

CARSON CITY, Nev. — A bill to ban dangerous animals as pets was introduced Wednesday in the Nevada Senate, a response to last summer’s rampage by two chimpanzees outside Las Vegas that left residents terrorized, one animal dead and another with a one-way ticket to an out-of-state sanctuary.

SB245, sponsored by Minority Leader Michael Roberson and others, lists the types of animals — including primates — that would be illegal for someone to keep, own, sell or breed. There are exceptions for accredited zoos, circuses, research facilities, wildlife sanctuaries and animal shelters.

Roberson, R-Henderson, pledged to push the legislation after two chimps escaped their compound in southern Nevada. Buddy, a male, was shot by a police officer after jumping atop cars and veering toward a gathering crowd of onlookers. CJ, a female, was tranquilized but got loose a second time and was moved to a sanctuary in Oregon.

Nevada is one of only six states with no restrictions on keeping wild animals as pets. Instead, oversight is left largely to local governments through county and municipal codes.

“It has been clear for some time that is a free-for-all in Nevada when it comes to owning dangerous exotic animals as pets,” Roberson said a week after the chimps got loose. “In order to protect the public, there needs to be strong oversight of these private owners who, in most cases, do not have the expertise needed to property care for these animals in captivity.”

The Humane Society of the United States praised the bill introduced Wednesday and urged lawmakers to support it.

“Lax laws in Nevada have threatened the safety of our residents and the welfare of wild animals,” said Holly Haley, Nevada state director of the organization.

“Nevada needs to join the dozens of states that have common-sense restrictions on the private ownership of big cats, primates and other dangerous wildlife in our communities,” Haley said.


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