RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — Raleigh City Council has banned people living in the city from owning a “dangerous wild animal.”

The move comes about a year after a Raleigh neighborhood was held hostage by a loose venom-spitting cobra that escaped a home about a half-mile away. CBS 17’s Judith Retana spotted the snake, leading police to capture it several hours later.

Under the ordinance approved on Tuesday, keeping a pet from a species considered a “dangerous wild animal” will be prohibited within city limits. It will go into effect in two months.

A “dangerous wild animal” is considered by the city to be “any non-domesticated animal, which is normally found in the wild state, is inherently dangerous to person or property, and which generally does not live in or about the habitation of humans.”

The city’s definition includes “medically significant snakes.” The city defines those as any snake whose venom can cause death, serious illness, or injury. It also includes snakes whose venom would require emergency room care or immediate care of a physician.

Mayor Pro Tem Nicole Stewart and councilmember Storme Forte voted against the ordinance. At a meeting last month, Stewart said there are “a lot of things going on in the city right now that need our attention –and I do not think this is one of them.”

Grandfather clause

While the ordinance bans future ownership of dangerous, wild animals, those who already own them will be allowed to keep them as long they are registered with the city. Owners have until July 1, 2023 to register their animals.

Information owners would be required to submit in their registration includes:

  • Detailed inventory of animals with descriptions and photo(s) of animals
  • Requirement to notify the City when the animal is moved to another location
  • Plan for transfer of ownership or destruction if owner can no longer care for the animal
  • Maintain health records of the animal
  • Proof of ownership, such as a bill of sale
  • Certifies that owner will only keep up to 10 medically significant venomous snakes
  • Must possess liability insurance
  • Will immediately report the escape of any dangerous wild animals in their possession

A criminal background check would also be required to make sure that owners don’t have any felony charges or convictions for animal abuse.

Penalties for violating city rules

Included in the new ordinance are fines for violating the city’s rules. Anyone who violates the rule could be fined up to $500 per animal, per day. In addition, owners will be responsible for paying any costs the city incurs while impounding, attempting to recapture, shelter, or euthanize an escaped animal.

Anyone who fails to register animals they already own would also be subject to a $500 fine per animal for each day they fail to register them.