The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

Local News

June 30, 2011

Alligator confiscated in Rock Creek, sent to Florida

ROCK CREEK — A 3 to 4-foot alligator is having fun in the Florida sun today after it was confiscated from a Rock Creek woman on May 25.

“I am very upset. I only had the animal for two hours before it was confiscated,” said Charlotte Easton, 55, of 3219 N. Main St.

“A  man  from  Roaming Shores gave it to me so I could place it in a sanctuary or give it to Jungle Terry,” she said.

Easton, who is affectionately known to her friends as the Lizard Lady, said she is a veterinary technician who takes in unwanted animals, specifically reptiles, after previous owners find the animals grow too big or are not “cute” anymore.

“I had no intention of keeping it,” she said.

Ashtabula County Sheriff’s Deputy Anthony Mino responded to an animal call on May 25 and observed a 3 to 4-foot alligator in the front yard of an apartment building, on a leash with children present. The alligator had green tape wrapped around its mouth to keep it closed.

“I took the alligator for safety issues. A 4-foot alligator was not appropriate for an apartment building with lots of people around,” Mino said Wednesday.

“I reassured (Easton) that the animal would not be destroyed, that it would be placed in a sanctuary. I worked for two days to find a home for this animal,” he said.

According to the Sheriff’s Department report, the other tenants expressed to Mino they were worried about their children’s safety. Mino asked Easton whether she had a permit to house the alligator, and she said no, that she does not need a permit to keep an alligator.

“I have a permit to have exotic animals from the federal government,” Easton told the Star Beacon.

“She was not able to produce a permit of any kind when I asked her,” Mino said.

According to Jamey Graham, of the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, the department has no jurisdiction over nonindigenous species.

“There is no permit required in Ohio for species that are not native to Ohio,” Graham said.

There is an exotic-animal ordinance in Rock Creek village, however, said Chip Laugen, village administrator.

“No person shall own or harbor any wild or exotic animal,” the ordinance states. “Exceptions to this prohibition are touring animal exhibitions, circuses, veterinarians (for the purpose of medical treatment), educational research facilities, aid for handicapped persons, or persons licensed or permitted by the state.

“Persons who presently own or harbor an exotic or wild animal may keep the animal until the animal’s death or until its ownership is transferred outside of the village. However, no such person shall keep any such animal unless he or she registers the same with the village administrator or his or her designate,” the ordinance states.

“Easton has not spoken to any of us about registering exotic animals,” Laugen said.

On June 22, Mino spoke to an alligator sanctuary official in Dade County, Florida. The official said the alligator is in good health and is doing fine at the sanctuary, where it is living in a noncage environment, the report shows.

“The official said it is an American alligator and will grow to be 9 feet in length and would have needed a 12 by 12-foot space, minimum, to accommodate the animal’s needs,” Mino said.

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