(ANIMAL WELFARE) COLORADO — After a family accidentally let their giant, 6-foot lizard loose, sheriffs are warning nearby residents to keep their small pets inside as the reptile has a history of chomping on exposed cats and dogs. Residents outside of Colorado might not have to worry about this particular incident, but the situation raises questions about what officers will do when they find the pet reptile. These policemen, unfamiliar to a situation like this, might react in a harmful way if they feel threatened. The sheriffs could actually be the danger in this situation rather than the other way around, especially as departments often claim that wounding or killing an animal is justified if they feel intimidated. Should someone more fitting be the one searching for this lizard? — Global Animal
Huffington Post, Steven K. Paulson
DENVER — A sheriff has warned residents in a tourist town northwest of Colorado Springs that a strong, aggressive 6-foot lizard that eats small animals – including dogs and cats – is on the loose in the area.
Teller County Sheriff Mike Ensinger said Tuesday that a 25-pound pet Nile monitor lizard has gone missing after breaking a mesh leash and crawling away.
Ensinger said about 400 homes in the Woodland Park area were warned. He added that the animal, which escaped Monday and is known as Dino, has not bitten any humans – yet.
“We have a 6-foot reptile out and about,” Ensinger said. “If it gets hungry enough, we don’t know what it will do.”
Ensinger said his animal control division is searching for the animal.
Area resident Rick Stasi said the sheriff’s advisory was unsettling, warning “pet owners and parents are urged to use caution while pets and children are outdoors.”
Stasi said he plans to keep his two small dogs indoors.
Bradley Bundy, a veterinarian at Dublin Animal Hospital in Colorado Springs, said the lizard could inflict a nasty bite if cornered.
“This kiddo could hurt someone if they don’t know how to restrain it,” Bundy said. He added that the lizards are sold in area pet stores and look cute when they’re only 8 inches long, but they can grow to reach 9 feet when they get older.
Ensinger said officers may use a tracking dog if Dino isn’t located by Tuesday afternoon.
“I’m not going after it,” Ensinger said. “I don’t do reptiles.”