Animal Control Officer Questions Tennessee Exotic Pets Law
NASHVILLE, Tenn. - The exotic monkeys and birds confiscated in two separate raids last week are on their way to a safe primate refuge and bird sanctuary in Texas.
But, back in Tennessee, they leave behind some questions about the laws surrounding exotic animals and if they need to be updated to match the technology being used to purchase them.
Online it's as easy as Googling "purchase Macaque Monkey" and dozens of sites allow people to do that in a matter of minutes. Tennessee is one of a few states left where owning and purchasing a monkey from within the U.S. is legal.
It's this easy access that has the Head of Animal Control in Bedford County trying to change local laws after Friday's monkey attack
"It is frustrating to all animal control officers because there are not a lot of rules in place," said Brenda Goodrich.
She said she was not shocked about the attack that happened last week when a Macaque Monkey got loose and bit a neighbor and attacked a sheriff's deputy. The monkey was shot and killed, but she said it had a history with Animal Control officers. The exotic pet had bitten people twice before. Goodrich believes this incident is proof laws need to change.
"To protect society to protect innocent victims like Ms. Pyrdum and to protect the animals, anybody can buy anything and that is not always a good thing for the animals."
Buying a monkey online is just as easy as buying a maltese and that's why officials believe the laws need to be updated to match technology.
"Unfortunately it's easy to get any pet, exotic or not, you can pretty much get any pet online these days," said Scotlund Haisley, the head of Animal Rescue Corp.
Meanwhile, the surviving four monkeys were loaded onto an RV headed for greener pastures in Texas. They are transporting them with meticulous care after last week's attack proved they are smart and strong.
They sedated the monkeys before the journey, and have a Primate Expert from the Nashville Zoo riding along.
The owner of the RV said he was happy to help the rescue operation.
"It's a neat feeling to see the birds and the monkeys, they are coming out of their shells you might say and you can tell they've been mistreated," said Phil Simpson.
"I think they are doing better but nonetheless these are dangerous caged animals so we are taking every precaution necessary," said Haisley.
There will also be dozens of exotic birds in tow after nearly 120 of them were found living in squalor at their former owner's home in Sumner County.
Rescue officials said the owner was selling them on the Internet.
After years in dirty small cages, these animals are headed to freedom in air conditioned ride but their two separate owners could soon find themselves in behind bars at their county jail.
Right now, 16 states ban the purchase or sale of monkeys. But in Tennessee, the law only states that apes and baboons are illegal.
The former owner of the birds is due in court Wednesday to hear animal cruelty charges.
The owner of the monkeys is already behind bars for drug charges.