Sunday, December 16, 2007

Animal sanctuary bid hits dead end; Thorold, Region staff advised against refuge

The St. Catharines Standard Local News - Saturday December 15, 2007


Supporters of a proposed animal sanctuary in Thorold might shed some tears to know those plans have been scrapped.

The Endangered Animal Rescue Society (TEARS) doesn't intend to reapply to the city to turn wooded property at Kottmeier and Holland roads into a sanctuary for sick, old or abandoned exotic animals, including reptiles, primates and lions.

This despite the organization pledging it would after council rejected its initial application in July to build the refuge.

TEARS' Chris Morabito said Friday he didn't see the point after staff reports from the city and the Region advised against giving the plans the green light.

"The planning departments for the City of Thorold and Niagara Region do not want it," Morabito said. "They are the experts in the exotics. They feel the land doesn't qualify for it so we respect their decision."

The land where Morabito and his family planned to house the sanctuary was identified by city staff as prime agricultural land and home to the ecologically sensitive headwaters of Twelve Mile Creek. A woodlot on site was also deemed an environmental conservation area.

Animal welfare groups, including the World Society for the Protection of Animals and Zoocheck, had spoken out against the sanctuary over concerns the proposal sounded more like a roadside zoo than a sanctuary.

The deciding factor for several Thorold councillors was that the Morabitos didn't comply with orders to stop work on the property after it was discovered they had removed trees and built animal pens without proper permits.

A political consultant for the organization said at the time the Morabitos would follow the procedures and make their pitch again.

But now, instead of building homes for the furry, feathered or scaly, Morabito said he'll likely build a family home. Selling the land to developers is another possibility, he said.

Deputy Mayor Ted Luciani, who voted against the proposal in July, was indifferent to the news the Morabitos would not try again.

"To me, it's one issue of hundreds I deal with in the course of a year. It's one issue we've dealt with and now it's time to carry on to the next issue," Luciani said.

He did, however, wonder what would happen to the animals the family had taken into their care.

Morabito said he will shop around his sanctuary proposal elsewhere. Exotic animal sanctuaries are needed, he said, so long as there is an exotic pet trade.

"There are other places in Ontario that are accepting of sanctuaries like what we want to do because they do know that people do buy these animals and that shouldn't happen," he said.

TEARS will also start charging for its services, such as picking up animals or stepping in to help other organizations that need assistance handling exotic creatures.

The Standard also received a tip the Morabitos were keeping reptiles at the Kottmeier Road site.

The city sent notification last week that they must be removed.

But Morabito said there are no animals on site and hadn't received the notice.

"I must be getting one," Morabito said. "You know before I do."

How You Can Help the Animals

Please take a moment to write a short letter thanking the City of Thorold and the Regional Municipality of Niagara for rejecting TEARS' application to open up a roadside zoo in Thorold.

Let them know that you support their decision and that you would like them to go one step further by enacting a municipal bylaw to ban the possession and display of exotic animals in Thorold. Please send your letters to:

Mayor Henry D’Angela
City of Thorold
3540 Schmon Parkway, P.O. Box 1044
Thorold, ON
L2V 4V7

Peter Colosimo
Senior Planner
Planning and Development Department
Regional Municipality of Niagara
2201 St. David’s Road, P.O. Box 1042
Thorold, ON
L2V 4T7

Animal Protection Institute - Captive Exotic Animals

No comments: