When I get together with my family this Christmas, there's a good chance that THIS story from my childhood will be told: I once ran away from home and headed to grandma's house. One of the essential items I took with me: a stuffed baby alligator.
So you could say my affinity for alligators is life-long. However, it appears that the love of some Pennsylvanians for baby alligators is causing a problem in that state. Because residents don't apparently realize that baby alligators become ADULT alligators.
In Pennsylvania, residents are required to have a license for their pet dogs… but there apparently aren’t any such state regulations on pet alligators? That’s causing some problems, as more and more alligators are being abandoned once they grow too large for their owners.
Now the founder of local animal shelter in Lancaster County, the Forgotten Friend Reptile Sanctuary, is calling for the state to at least regulate the sale of the reptiles that can grow up to 10-feet in length. As of now, they’re taking care of four rescued alligators, but Jesse Rothacker says they receive calls about abandoned gators “every week.”
To avoid the problem getting worse, he’s suggesting either thousand-dollar permits be required or microchips that can trace an abandoned alligator back to its owner.
Rothaker wants the rules put in place not only for the sake of the poor animals, but also because they can become dangerous to locals once they grow up if they’re roaming around the state. “In Pennsylvania, you think that’s crazy? We have no regulation preventing the dealer from selling the alligator to a child,” he adds. “If an alligator eats someone or kills a child, the next day our legislators will pretend to care about it.”