Council approves exemption for snake rescue service in
In Orillia they called Jim LaPorte the "snake guy."
Last May, Mr. LaPorte, his wife and two children moved to Heydon Avenue
in Alliston where he continues to run a rescue haven for reptiles.
Last night he told New Tecumseth councillors that he wasn't aware of
the Town's Wildlife and Prohibited Animals Bylaw which prohibits "all
snakes of the families Pythonidae and Boidae (pythons and boa
constrictors) when he moved to town, and applied for an exemption to
continue his rescue service.
"Right now in my home, I have about 14 reptiles, mostly snakes," said
Mr. LaPorte. "It became a passion of mine about 13 years ago. I have
certification, I have taken courses to show I am capable of taking care
of these exotic animals, and it is one that keeps getting passed over.
Since I got hit with cancer in 2005, I just went right out with just
the reptiles only, and I'd like to continue doing that in this (town)."
In his report to council recommending an exemption that would allow Mr.
LaPorte to keep up to 25 snakes in his home, Steve Kinsella, the Town's
Superviser Municipal Law Enforcement, noted "there have been no
complaints from area residents on Heydon Avenue with regard to the
keeping of snakes at this property."
Ward 1 councillor Bob Marrs was supportive of the exemption and
suggested that instead of amending the bylaw for other requests that a
licensing provision be established for those qualified to keep exotic
animals which could be revoked if they weren't being properly cared for.
"I think it's a service that's required because there are problems with
trying to get rescue and it's nice to know that somebody's around that
can do it," said Mr. Marrs. "I also know that there's one other person
who recently talked to me regarding whether they could have exotic
animals because he is one of the people that goes around and shows them
and he's moving to town.I would assume if he does make his move, he'll
be looking for an exemption. I wonder if we should have something in
the process where if people are licensed and if they do not take proper
care of them then it's taken away, as opposed to having a bylaw
Mayor Mike MacEachern said it could be something the Town looks at as
long term policy, but "at this point, in the absence of that,
having this put forward as an exemption in order to allow Mr. LaPorte
to do what he needs to do."
Mr. LaPorte, who tends to the snakes along with his wife, said in
response to the question "who do you call" if one or more escaped, "Me."
He said with two children in the house, aged 7 and 10, the snakes are
secured in locked containers
"So I make sure even my big snakes - I have a 14.5 ft Burmese and a
10.5 ft Burmese that came in as rescues. I have currently ratchet
straps that hold their lids securely down so no matter how much you
push on it, it will not open. You would have to actually physically
take a hammer and smash the lid open."
Ward 8 councillor Jim Stone said he supported the exemption, and agreed
with notion of setting up "some type of licensing down the road. But I
was going to suggest maybe putting a screen in your sewer line or
something to contain them on your property in some way."