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  1. #1
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    City Seizes Clyde the Caiman; Owners Sue

    BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (CN) - A doctor sued the city of Homewood for confiscating his pet caiman, a 3-ft. 6-inch alligatorlike critter named Clyde, whom the doctor has had for 26 years. Dr. Richard Martin and his wife say Clyde is not an alligator, as the city claims, and that its ordinance does not define what "inherently dangerous" means.

    Martin says a city animal control officer confiscated Clyde, without a warrant, on Oct. 12, in response to a report that he had an alligator living in his basement.

    His wife told the animal police "that there was not an alligator in the home but that her husband owned a common spectacled caiman that was in an aquarium in the basement."

    The animal police insisted, so Susan Martin called her husband, who "under intimidation and threat of arrest," let the animal police into their home.

    Richard Martin says the animal cop, assisted by two pet store employees, "were unsuccessful in removing Clyde from the aquarium using a lasso and towel," so to protect Clyde from harm, he took Clyde from the aquarium himself and put him in a container provided by the pet store.

    Martin acknowledges that the city ordinance under which Clyde was arrested specifically refers to "crocodiles and alligators," but he says Clyde is not a crocodile or an alligator - he's a caiman.

    "The Homewood City Ordinance omits a definition for 'inherently dangerous,'" he adds.

    Martin says Clyde "is not an inherently dangerous reptile and should not have been removed from the care and custody of the Martins."

    He says he and his wife "through their attorney have attempted to ascertain the procedure and cost to reclaim their pet and have been denied information as to how to reclaim their pet."
    The Martins seek declaratory judgment "that brown spectacled caiman are not inherently dangerous reptiles and specifically Clyde is not an inherently dangerous reptile," and that the city's law on exotic animals is "overly vague and subjective making it an undue burden upon residen[ts] to comply."

    They also claim that the ordinance violates the 5th Amendment "in that it is a constructive taking of personal property without due process and just compensation," and that Clyde's arrest violated the 4th Amendment as an illegal search and seizure.

    They want Clyde back, and they want the city enjoined from invading their privacy again.
    They are represented by David Bedgood, of Pelham, Ala., in Jefferson County Court.

    The spectacled caiman (Caiman crocodilus), native to Central and South America, can grow to 8 feet long. Because they can live in salt or fresh water they are the most common of all crocodilians. They change color and become darker in the cold.
    Baby caiman are yellow with black spots. They become dark green like mom and dad as they age. Mother caiman will care for their own young as well as the young of other caiman in the caiman neighborhood.
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  2. #2
    BPnet Veteran VEXER19's Avatar
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    Poor guy. Why would they let them on their property without a warrant. They couldnt have arrested him. I hope he gets Clyde back.

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  3. #3
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    Re: City Seizes Clyde the Caiman; Owners Sue

    [QUOTE=ER12;1698238]BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (CN) - A doctor sued the city of Homewood for confiscating his pet caiman, a 3-ft. 6-inch alligatorlike critter named Clyde, whom the doctor has had for 26 years[/qoute]

    i think there is an issue with it care if it was still this small for so long. when they can grow 8 ft. but the caiman are classified as a croc sub class I was always told. not that I own one lol.
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  4. #4
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    Lol. That's just the average. For example, the average height for human women is 5'5". I'm a full six inches shorter than that. Besides, the article is using the length for males (6.6 to 8.2). Females are significantly smaller at 4.6. So, it wouldn't be any stretch to say that "Clyde" is actually "Claudette" and happens to be a small specimen.

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  5. #5
    BPnet Veteran mpkeelee's Avatar
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    What about dwarf caimans? Don't those stay pretty small?
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  6. #6
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    Re: City Seizes Clyde the Caiman; Owners Sue

    Quote Originally Posted by mechnut450 View Post
    i think there is an issue with it care if it was still this small for so long.
    1) it's probably a female
    2) these are long lived animals. They don't get full grown in 4-5 years.

    Let's not bash a guy based on what a small local news station said about an animal's size and setup.

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  8. #7
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    Re: City Seizes Clyde the Caiman; Owners Sue

    I'd like to know what happens, hope he gets it back and gets a lot of money and a big fine for the city.

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  9. #8
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    If it's 3-4 ft long, what kind of "aquarium" could be a good home? And many croc species tend to grow large quickly, but with slight exageration on size to 8 ft, you could squint and say that maybe 6 ft would be more common, so that 4 ft would be a smallish speciman(female?) and not too undersized(26 years, rem?). If it's kept in a too-small aquarium it could be stunted too.

    At any rate, I think he's stretching by trying to claim a caiman is not a crocadile. But the authorities had no right to invade his home, seize the animal and not allow the owners any access to the information showing why they are not allowed to keep it, how to get it back etc.

    If the guy has had it for 26 years and hasn't ever had an issue, I think they're just being jerks by seizing it now. How long has the statute been on the books anyway? Wouldn't they be grandfathered in?
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  11. #9
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    Re: City Seizes Clyde the Caiman; Owners Sue

    Caiman are the most commonly kept "pet" crocodiians. There is a subspecies called dwarf caiman which are often just sold as caiman. So that might be what this is. They are often kept is very large aquariums or "ponds" (those big black hard plastic pond liners commonly meant for coi).

    I think the guy will get hosed in the end because caiman are crocodiles. But the search and seizure was by definition illegal itself so at the very least he would get some restitution. But I don't see him getting it back.

    People need to know their rights and the law. Animal "cops" are actually cops at all. They have to have a real cop with them and a warrant to search for andf seize an animal with the exception being an animal in distress of which they have to have evidence of.
    Last edited by MasonC2K; 11-16-2011 at 09:47 AM.
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  12. #10
    No One of Consequence wilomn's Avatar
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    When someone knocks on your door, even if they're in uniform, you do NOT have to open it.

    If you don't open it, they can't "see" anything, they can't come in unless they have a warrant and while it may strain ones nerves to listen to the crap they'll shovel trying to get you to open your door, you are NOT OBLIGATED to do so.

    You don't have to answer your phone just because it rings.

    You don't have to accept certified mail just because someone paid to get your signature.

    Sometimes you just have to say no.
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