Wausau officials look to ban wild animals as pets

WAUSAU, Wis (WSAW) -- The Public Health and Safety committee will review a new ordinance on Thursday that would limit what type of animals you can have as a pet within Wausau city limits.

The idea was first proposed after a Wausau Police Officer was bitten by a pet fox in October of 2018. The fox had to be put down and tested for any diseases.

The proposed ordinance would prohibit a person from keeping or maintaining several wild animals such as bears, elephants, lions, rhinos, Prairie Dogs, Hippos, all venomous animals and several others.

Currently, the City of Wausau only prohibits a person from keeping bees and poisonous snakes as well as a few farm animals. Law enforcements hopes the ordinance would clarify what is qualified as a pet.

“It was important for us to have a discussion around an ordinance that restricts certain animals from being kept as pets,” stated Chief Ben Bliven with the Wausau Police Department. “This has become a health and safety issues for our community.”

Wausau city officials looked at other larger cities as an example when drafting the proposal. If approved by the committee on Thursday, the ordinance would be sent to the City Council for a final vote.

In the meantime, Emily Kretzchmar, the owner of the pet fox that bit the Wausau Police Officer, sent this statement to our newsroom:

"It is sad that we are even considering this ban to remove animals from homes, rather than educating the Wausau Police Department, Humane Officers, and the general public."

The meeting on Thursday will start at 5:15 p.m. at Wausau City Hall and will be open to the public.