White-faced Capuchin Monkey

EXEMPT? — Haywood County commissioners will hear arguments on whether a Capuchin monkey, such as the one shown above, should be exempt from the county’s dangerous animal ordinance. White-faced Capuchin Monkey

County commissioners will entertain a public hearing about some monkey business during their June 15 meeting.

A Capuchin monkey was previously confiscated by animal services as an inherently dangerous wild animal, defined by a section of the county’s animal services ordinance, said county attorney Frank Queen.

“This particular animal was seized because the monkey was present at a crime scene that the monkey was not responsible for,” Queen said. “The law enforcement officer requested the assistance of animal control to remove not only this monkey, but also some sort of small python.”

Animal services director Howard Martin confirmed that a snake and a monkey were both confiscated by way of a search warrant on May 4, and said the animals are being cared for at appropriate facilities.

“We were called to the residence by the sheriff’s office in reference to a rescue search warrant,” Martin said. “At the time we entered, there were two dogs, a monkey and a constrictor snake. The owners were not available at that time.”

The monkey is defined as a nonhuman primate, which are illegal to shelter in Haywood County, and restrictor snakes are also prohibited by the inherently dangerous wild animals clause of the county’s animal services ordinance. Queen said the county commissioners are able to alter what animals are included in that section of the ordinance.

A petition to allow for Capuchin monkeys to be exempt or excluded from the list of inherently dangerous wild animals was submitted to the commissioners May 22, according to county documents.

The petitioner, Cynthia Gregory, said in her petition document that Capuchin monkeys are easily domesticated and used for public performances and as service animals, that the animal will grow no taller than one foot and weigh no more than 10 pounds.

She also said the animal does not have an aggressive nature and that the definition of nonhuman primates in county ordinances is overly broad.

When asked by the commissioners, Queen said Capuchin monkeys have never before been considered for exemption from county ordinances. Martin, who started as animal services director in February, said he had never dealt with such an animal during his time working with animals in neither Florida nor North Carolina.

The commissioners unanimously approved the ordinance hearing, which will take place toward the beginning of the board’s regular meeting in the historic courthouse at 5:30 p.m. June 15.

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