Exotic Animals Ordinance Information

What are the amendments to the original ordinance?

  1. Change the implementation time of the ordinance from 30 to 90 days.
  2. Add language for an exemption: "A properly maintained zoological park or facility that is currently accredited or certified by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) or has submitted an application for accreditation or certification from the AZA and the AZA has not made a decision on accreditation or certification. If an application has been submitted, this exception is only valid for one year from the date the application is submitted. If accreditation or certification is denied or removed by the AZA at any time, this exemption shall not apply."

You can find the ordinance here.

Where will the ordinance apply?
The ordinance applies to unincorporated Washington County. Cities may opt in to the ordinance through an intergovernmental agreement with the County.

When will it go into effect?
The ordinance will go into effect on September 17, 2018. After that time, citizens may file a complaint by calling Animal Services at 503-846-7041. There is a process for addressing complaints, and we will work with keepers of exotic animals on a plan for them to come into compliance. We understand that moving or rehoming exotic animals takes some time.

What animals are you talking about?
An exotic animal is narrowly defined in the proposed ordinance. The five categories of exotic animals in the proposed ordinance are (1) non-native cats (except domestic cats), (2) non-native dogs (except domestic dogs), (3) non-native bears, (4) crocodiles and alligators, and (5) primates. The definition comes straight from Oregon law. In addition, the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife regulates under what conditions people can keep other animals such as wolves and cougars. Indigenous animals are part of the natural Oregon landscape and provisions are made to house and/or rehabilitate them as necessary. This ordinance is intended to prevent the introduction or keeping of exotic species not normally found in the state of Oregon, such as lions, tigers, bears, monkeys and crocodiles.

Is there a grandfather clause?
No. While there may be exotic animals in Washington County, there is no grandfathering provision included in this proposed ordinance.

How will this ordinance be enforced?
As with other County code violations, the ordinance is complaint-driven. In other words, staff won’t be driving around the county looking for exotic animals; someone will have to file a complaint for any action to be taken. Professional staff knowledgeable about the codes and laws that pertain to privacy rights and other relevant issues will investigate any complaints.

Are the County’s code enforcement officers trained to seize exotic animals?
The County employs professional staff who are knowledgeable about the risks and challenges associated with handling exotic animals. Having that knowledge will help ensure that the proper steps are taken and the appropriate tools are used if a seizure becomes necessary. We may also consult with outside agencies with relevant experience. Local law enforcement may be involved if needed to ensure safety of our staff, the public or the animals.

What will the County do if they seize an animal? Where will they keep it and what will become of it? Will you euthanize the animal? 
These are all questions that will have to be determined based on the circumstances of a specific situation. It is our goal to reach a reasonable resolution in any situation that involves potential code violations. Voluntary compliance with the code will prevent the need for enforcement action. Decisions about any necessary enforcement action will include a clear, safe and reasonable approach that ensures public safety and humane treatment of any animals involved. Euthanasia will always be a last resort and can most easily be avoided by voluntary compliance with the code by people who own exotic animals.