by Cameron Luttrell (Patch Staff) - 3/21/17- ARLINGTON, VA — The County Board agreed to hold a public hearing in June concerning the proposed ordinance that would ban wild or exotic pets within the Arlington County boundaries. The ban would prohibit the presence of wild and exotic animals — such as monkeys, raccoons, foxes, lions, wildcats, crocodiles and snakes — weighing over ten pounds in Arlington County.
The Board voted 5-0 for a new hearing after County staff received several comments, many from individuals and organizations outside Arlington, during an initial public process, the Board announced March 18.
Arlington's current County Code does not expressly prohibit exotic animals, except poisonous reptiles, to be kept as pets or companion animals.
The Virginia Code does not expressly prohibit ownership of exotic animals.
A local ban would enable Arlington Animal Control officers to enforce the law, rather than having to defer to state enforcers, which can cause enforcement delays.
The measure is backed by the Animal Welfare League of Arlington, as well as the Humane Society of the U.S.
“This issue has stirred a great deal of public interest and valuable comments. Staff has incorporated enough changes into the proposed ordinance that it needs to be re-advertised and we need to give people an additional chance to provide feedback,” County Board Chair Jay Fisette said.
With this ban, residents would be able to register the exotic animal under "specific circumstances," the Board notes.
According to WTOP, residents who currently own exotic pets would be able to keep them if the ban passed, as long as they register them with county animal control officers. If residents failed to register the animal, they would be charged with a misdemeanor and carry a $250 fee for each offense.
“The animal advocates in our community thought it was time to do this,” Kurt Larrick with Arlington County’s Department of Human Services told WTOP.
Officials said the potential exotic animal ban would be similar to rules across Northern Virginia and D.C.
The Board has not yet specified when exactly the public hearing will occur in June.