“Snuggles” and “Babe” are not exotic.
Mr. Henderson (Defendant) lived in Columbia, and kept two pet alligators, “Snuggles” and “Babe,” for educational programs. Defendant was charged on June 28, 2011, under the city of Columbia’s dangerous exotic animal ordinance. Defendant stated that both animals had been raised in captivity and admitted that alligators could be dangerous. After being convicted in municipal court, Defendant sought a trial de novo in the circuit court, where he filed a motion to dismiss, contending Section 5-29 was “unconstitutionally vague and/or overbroad” as applied to this case. The trial court determined that the alligators were not within the ordinance’s definition of “exotic animals;” therefore, Section 5-29 did not bar the keeping of the alligators. The City appealed to the Western District, which held that while the alligators did not fall within the enumerated list of exotic animals, the word including and the subsequent amendment to the ordinance allowed the court to determine that alligators, while not within the enumerated list, could be a dangerous reptile prohibited under the ordinance. City of Columbia v. Henderson, 2013 WL 2179275 (Mo. App. W.D., 2013), (WD75559, 5/21/13)
Comment Howard: While I did not get all excited about the importance of this case, I thought the amendment to the ordinance was pretty clever that allowed the court to interpret the ordinance broadly.