The recent ban on ownership of poisonous snakes and other wild or exotic pets by the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors allowed current owners five years to dispose of such pets if they registered with the county animal warden.
Six county residents did so by the deadline, declaring a total of 20 pets.
Centreville District Supervisor Martha Pennino called the citizens who registered exotic pets under the ordinance "the honest ones."
"I am sure there are as many as six (of these cases) in my community," she said.
The county's animal control ordinance was amended to ban exotic pets after residents complained of the pets in the county, Pennino said.
"We noticed an increase in the importation of exotic creatures - boa constrictors, birds, gila monsters and some poisonous reptiles. Some, like the little turtles, carry disease," Pennino said. She blamed the owners of these creatures for causing the ordinance to be passed.
Fairfax County Animal Warden Richard Amity said, "We do not consider exotic creatures an animal control problem, but that is not to say people shouldn't have them for other reasons. People don't know how to care for them, and the animals carry disease."
Dennis Moore of Centreville, who registered 14 snakes, said the county "shouldn't have the right to tell me what pets I can have. It is taking away your personal rights."
Moore and his wife Carol presents shows with their snakes, both poisonous and nonpoisonous. They hold rattlesnakes and force them to bite into a clear, plastic-covered cup and spill poisonous yellow venom. They wrap 15-foot long boa constrictors around themselves.
They are trying to teach people the value of snakes, Moore said.
"Fear of snakes is something you learn. It is not instinct. I talk about where they came from their purposes and talk people into accepting them. I tell them when they kill the nonpoisonous snakes, copperheads come into their housing developments," Moore said.
Moore said that exotic species ought to be registered, and the county ought to make it more difficult to have them. "Maybe make owners put up a bond and prove they have the facilities to keep them," Moore said. "I could go for that, but to ban them completely isn't right."
The other persons registering exotic pets before the deadline were Douglas Crotinger, who has a wooley monkey; A. J. Carbone, who registered a squirrel monkey; Frank Caldwell, who also owns a squirrel monkey; William Rush, who has a llama, and Claudia Warhurst, who also has a llama.