Veterinarians, government officials and retailers argued over what defines a dangerous animal at a meeting Wednesday meant to improve exotic animal laws in Virginia.
The Virginia Dangerous Animals Initiative met in Richmond to define what a dangerous animal is and whether legislation should be introduced to the General Assembly to ban such animals.
The problem is, many can't agree on how to define a dangerous or wild animal.
"Dogs didn't fall from the sky domesticated," said Kerri Cooper-Bailey, an exotic animal veterinarian. "We made them that way. Dogs kill people every year, but we don't ban dogs."
"Wild animals are inherently dangerous," said Sharon Adams with the Virginia Alliance for Animal Shelters. "Poisonous snakes fall under that category."
The death of 70-year-old Jack Redmond in Chesterfield, possibly from a snake bite was referenced in the discussions. Redmond owned 40 states, including 24 venomous snakes, according to police. Poisonous snakes are illegal in Chesterfield.
"It doesn't matter what law you pass," Cooper-Bailey said. "It's not going to matter because he's holding them illegally. So banning those who are doing it right is not the way to do it."
The discussion isn't over yet. There will be a public input meeting October 24 at the Science Museum of Virginia.