RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — The owner of a venomous zebra cobra that was on the loose in Raleigh last summer made his final appearance in court Friday morning.
Chris Gifford’s snake was missing for several months before it was spotted on a porch in a northwest Raleigh neighborhood last June.
He has this message: “All I can really say is I just apologize for the community, what I did, I terrified a lot of people.”
Gifford did not report the snake missing.
“Huge mistake that I made, clearly, I know there are a lot of people that keep these animals I hope they learn from the mistake,” he said.
In court Friday, Gifford’s last remaining charge, failing to report a missing snake was dismissed. The other 39 charges of improper enclosure and mislabeled enclosure were dropped last summer when he entered into a plea agreement
His attorney, Anna Felts, said he followed the rules of a year-long probation and paid more than $13,000 that he was ordered to pay to cover the cost of emergency responders.
“He’s done everything to remedy it, and you know as we discussed I think really the community has learned a lot about snakes and the protection and the laws have been changed,” Felts said.
After months of debate, the Raleigh City Council passed a wild animal ban last month. People who already own banned animals like venomous snakes that can cause death or serious illness and injuries, can keep them as long as they’re registered with the city.
Gifford’s advice to those owners is to learn from him.
“If something ever happens you make the call, the call that I didn’t make,” he said.