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Bill would outlaw exotic animals as pets in Pa.

Published On: Sep 09 2013 06:50:47 AM CDT

Exotic animals as pets may be outlawed

Berks County's Barry Hoch has owned "Jake E" this 25-year-old black bear since she was a 12- week-old cub.

"She is the clown of the woods in the summer. Will lay in her bath like a human being, "Hoch said.

For Jake E, home is this backyard pen Barry built. Each year he renews his permit to own her from the Pennsylvania Game Commission knowing the dangers that carries.

"Even though some think it's a domesticated animal, it's not. You can see her watching me," he said. "Would I recommend her for other people? No." Hoch added.

Neither would Berks County State Senator Judy Schwank. She co-sponsored a bill that would ban exotic animals as pets in Pennsylvania.

"You really have to be sure this is something you want to do. Most people could not meet the needs of wild animals over a lifetime," Schwank said.

Shwank says exotic animals are difficult to domesticate and pose dangers to both owner, pet and the public.

Two years ago, more than 50 bears, lions and tigers were gunned down by Ohio police after their owner released them from his private zoo and into the neighborhood.

Barry agrees with the dangers but doesn't think the animals should be banned completely as pets.

"I understand, but there are people who are responsible also," he added.

Reptiles aren't covered in the bill and anyone who possesses exotic pets up until January 1st of 2014 can continue to care for them.

A similar bill died on the Senate floor in 2012.

Schwank says it's to protect the creatures and public from owners who aren't as responsible as Barry.

"I think most people who are animal lovers would see it's not the right thing to do," she said.