Westerly police, animal control officer seize large alligator from Post Road home

Westerly police, animal control officer seize large alligator from Post Road home


Westerly Animal Control Officer Art Smith seized this 6-foot alligator from a Post Road home on Friday. |

Editor’s note: This version clarifies that Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management officials played an active role in the investigation, seizure and relocation of the alligator.

WESTERLY — Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management officials, Westerly police and animal control officer Art Smith seized a large alligator from a private residence on Friday morning. Smith said the 6-foot-long reptile was owned by a tenant of the house and was kept in a flimsy shelter in the backyard.

The owner of the house came upon the alligator and alerted police. Smith did not provide the address where the alligator was living, saying only that it was a house on Post Road between Charlestown and Shore Road.

“When I went to the location, there was a makeshift shelter outside,” Smith said. “This was a bad situation for three reasons. One, alligators are prohibited in Westerly; two, the shelter was not sufficient for the alligator; and third, the owner did not have a permit as required by state law.”

Smith said the alligator posed a definite threat to the public.

“It was a public safety threat,” he said. “I wanted more than anything to secure it. People will get these animals and lose interest in them quickly. This animal was procured in Florida and brought to Rhode Island.”

Rhode Island state law requires that people wishing to keep exotic animals go through an extensive permitting process. The alligator’s owner will be charged with violating Westerly’s “dangerous animals” ordinance and is facing a $100 fine and an appearance in municipal court.

Smith said the owner claimed that he had had the alligator for nearly a year. Smith said it was unlikely that the cold-blooded animal would have made it through a severe winter in such a shelter.

Smith said he was relieved that no one had been injured by the alligator and said he was also happy that the animal would spend the rest of its life in a reptile rehabilitation facility in a warmer climate. DEM officials were expected to assist in the alligator relocation process.

“The happy ending here is it’s going to a place where it can live out its life, and the weather is conducive,” he said.

cdrummond@ thewesterlysun.com @cynthiadrummon4

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