RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – Raleigh city leaders are still working on a plan to address dangerous and exotic animals within city limits.

The call for change came after a venom-spitting cobra escaped into a northwest Raleigh neighborhood in June 2021.

Since then, the City has attempted to decide what, if anything, they should do to regulate the ownership of dangerous or wild animals.

The City’s Growth and Natural Resources Committee was tasked with coming up with a recommendation for a possible new ordinance.

The committee could not come to a consensus and decided to send the issue back to the council without a recommendation.

Currently, the only regulations in place for Raleigh come from the state level.

State laws only layout how to house a dangerous animal.

It calls for specific enclosures and paperwork to have on hand. Owners don’t have to report their animals to any agency but do need an escape plan. It’s up to individual jurisdictions to decide on further regulations or bans.

The committee had come up with four possible ordinance options.

  • Option 1: A ban dangerous and wild animal possession unless there is an exemption with no grandfathering
  • Option 2: A ban of future dangerous and wild animal possession but grandfather for those currently in possession pending registration and compliance with proposed requirements. Requirements could include liability insurance and a limit on how many venomous snakes you can own.
  • Option 3: Allowing for dangerous and wild animal possession pending registration and compliance with proposed requirement. Requirements could include liability insurance and a limit on how many venomous snakes you can own.
  • Option 4: No change in ordinance or registration. City would continue to abide by state and federal laws.

This City is now facing another stumbling block on the way to more restrictions. At their meeting on Tuesday, they voted to take up the issue at a later date when they could receive a full presentation on the options from legal staff.

Residents call for change

“It’s dangerous and it’s scary for the neighbors,” said nearby resident Fred Steffy.

He lives down the street from where the snake was found and still remembers what it was like to learn a venom-spitting zebra cobra was on his dog’s walking route.

“I was just worried about letting him out when I first found out so I had to keep a close eye on him,” he said.

People in the neighborhood where the cobra was found want to see some kind of change.

“Probably a better tracking system although I can’t imagine having any use for a dangerous snake,” said Steffy.

Daniel Coleman also made sure to keep his dog out of the grass when the snake was loose. He wants more rules in place too.

“Limit the amount and the number you have and to make sure you have insurance suitable to cover any liability,” he suggested.

He understands differentiating between different species is a challenge.

“Chickens from snakes from dogs from cats and drawing lines in the sand. They just haven’t been able to do so and that’s what we pay them to do is create those lines,” Coleman said.

He hopes those lines can eventually be drawn to make everyone safer.

When initially covering the escape of this snake, CBS 17’s Judith Retana stumbled upon it while speaking with residents in the neighborhood.

Several hours later, it was captured.

The owner, Christopher Gifford, paid a $13,000 fine and surrendered 75 snakes.