Reno's Exotic Animal Shop Closing
The exotic animal population in Washoe County will soon become less exotic. A new ordinance targets the creatures, and the only store selling them is closing soon.
At Sierra Aquatics, the African savannah monitor is about to lose his job as mascot. “Moose” the blue tongue skink will have to leave too. The Reno store has been quite the menagerie for eight years now. Possums to chipmunks. Prairie dogs to degus. Hedgehogs, sugar gliders, ferrets, leopard geckos and more. Co-owner Jean Roznos told me, "People could come see the kudamundis and of course the wallaby pug in the back. They're all gone. They all have found new homes pretty much."
This indoor jungle at the corner of Kietzke and 2nd is the only shop in Reno you could buy a critter from the other end of the world. But this month, this business faces an abrupt end. The exotic animal population in Washoe County will become less exotic. A new ordinance targets the creatures, and the only store selling them is closing soon.They already stopped selling the possums and the sugar gliders, and by the 25th the little white hedgehog will have to be gone too...all because Sierra Aquatics says they can't make it with the new rules. As Roznos told us, "With the new Washoe County laws that have passed, it’s going to become more and more difficult to own exotic pets in Washoe County."
The new animal ordinance passed three weeks ago. It requires a permit to own a "Tier 2 or 3" exotic animal, which could be denied. If OK'd, your exotic pet will require liability insurance ranging from $25,000 to $250,000. The store’s prairie dogs are Tier 2, requiring $25,000 in coverage. Jean says not only can they not afford that…it's hard for her customers to find that insurance in the first place. She told me, "I called different independent insurance agencies and all others and there's nobody that writes this policy except for one guy now out of Las Vegas."
So Reno will lose its curious and colorful collection of creatures. Jean says, "We are closing down. We are not reopening in Washoe County and I don't know if we're reopening anywhere else. This is sad for us. We did not want to do this."
The new ordinance takes effect April 1st. Sierra Aquatics closes on February 25th. Right now they’re selling everything in the store at 30% off except for the feeders. As for co-owner Jean, she is getting out of the business… selling only pet supplies in Roseville, California.
We did hear back from Washoe County Regional Animal Services. They sent us this statement: “Washoe County Regional Animal Services finds the closing of local pet store, Sierra Aquatics, has been unfairly attributed to the new animal ordinances recently passed at the January 23, 2018 Board of County Commissioners meeting. Through the recent ordinance changes, many animals that were customarily sold in businesses such as Sierra Aquatics were eliminated from the permitting system, resulting in less regulation. Additionally, this ordinance is not effective until April 1, 2018 which has yet to yield impacts to our community. Considering that the number of animals that were previously required to be permitted was much broader under the old ordinance, Washoe County Regional Animal Services finds the claim from Sierra Aquatics and the reason for their closing due to these ordinance changes, highly unfortunate. Staff has worked diligently on the recently adopted changes for over four years and do not take these changes lightly. The only intent with the new animal ordinances is to ensure public safety and the welfare and responsible care of all animals.” -Shyanne Schull, Director, Washoe County Regional Animal Services