Thursday, June 07, 2007

Monkey Owner Continues To Dispute Seizure Before The Montgomery County Animal Control Board

gimme monkeyElyse Gazewitz continued her fight last night to free her monkey, Armani, from the custody of Montgomery County authorities, arguing that she was not allowed to find her pet a temporary home before he was deemed illegal and seized.

In a 45-minute hearing before the county's Animal Matters Hearing Board, Gazewitz's lawyer argued that she deserved 10 days under county law to move Armani out of state before animal control officers took him from her Rockville home last month. Rockville lawyer Anne Benaroya also argued that capuchin monkeys like Armani are easily tamed and should not be considered a "wild animal" under county law.

Elyse Gazewitz, right, with attorney Anne Benaroya, speaks to reporters outside last night's Animal Matters Hearing Board meeting about her effort to reclaim Armani.
Elyse Gazewitz, right, with attorney Anne Benaroya, speaks to reporters outside last night's Animal Matters Hearing Board meeting about her effort to reclaim Armani.

Gazewitz, 42, did not speak at the hearing but broke into tears afterward, saying, "I want Armani to come home." The monkey, whom she calls her baby and "little boy," is being kept at a Frederick County zoo while the appeal is pending.

William Snoddy, an associate county attorney representing the police department's Division of Animal Control and Humane Treatment, told the board that a 10-day notice was not required. That part of the law, he said, pertains only to animals declared to be dangerous. Armani could be seized immediately because pet monkeys are prohibited under county and state laws, he said.

He said Gazewitz did not meet her legal burden of proving that the decision to seize Armani was "arbitrary, capricious or illegal." The wild-animal laws, he said, are designed to protect the public's health and the welfare of animals that should not be kept as pets.

Board Chairman J.C. Crist, who represents the Montgomery County Humane Society, said the panel usually takes six weeks to issue decisions but will expedite this one. The five-member volunteer panel is appointed by the county executive and includes a veterinarian or veterinary technician, a Humane Society representative and three members of the public.

The case has drawn national attention, from radio talk shows to Internet blogs, and sparked debate over whether Armani is a victim of overzealous authorities who unfairly seized him from a loving home or a wild animal who had no business living in a Rockville neighborhood.


Story here.

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1 comment:

Hillegonda said...

ok, so "the 10-day notice was not required. That part of the law, he said, pertains only to animals declared to be dangerous.Armani could be seized immediately because pet monkeys are prohibited under county and state laws, he said." This is great, so dangerous animals can have an additional 10 days to chew people or other pets up, but a friendly monkey, not dangerous to others can be seized immediately because it is prohibited! Makes a hell of a lot of sence. But having dealt with the "intelligent" employees from Montgomery County Animal control before, this does not surprise me!!