Savannah explores possible animal ban on River St. - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

Savannah explores possible animal ban on River St.


Will River Street become an animal-free zone?

The city of Savannah is exploring the idea after repeated complaints about animals, most recently snakes, along the river.

Those who have been down to River Street the last few months, may have noticed a few young men with large pythons around their necks. They draw a crowd and attention. Now, they have the attention of Savannah City Hall.

The city says the two men do not have permits or licenses to be on River Street, but there is no law on the books preventing them from being there.

Jonathan Mewborn owns one of the pythons. He told WTOC that he plans on getting an entertainment license, and does ask for donations from people who take their picture with his snake.

The city is now looking into possibly banning exotic animals from River Street, or taking it one step further and banning all animals.

The question is: if you ban snakes, do you ban other animals too, including dogs?

"I see no problem with it as long as they are under control. People need to pick up their stuff. Especially dogs," Del Arnett told WTOC.

Arnett has been making palm roses on River Street for seven years. He's seen all kinds of animals, like the Mewborn's albino python.

"Some people are just afraid of them. I don't see a problem," Arnett said. "I ain't selling snakes. Ain't got nothing to do with me."

"All I know is I see them down here all the time. As long as they don't stick them in people's face or approach people who don't want to be approached, I don't see no problem with it," Arnett said.

"I don't know if I would support snakes rolling around River Street, but dogs, certainly allow them," said Dennis Wharton, of Washington, D.C.

Not so fast, Dennis Wharton. His dog Gracie, a 6-month-old Scottish terrier, could be banned too, depending on what the city's findings show.

"If we can't bring the dog we might not come to River Street," Wharton said. "One of the reasons we come to Savannah is we view it as a dog friendly city."

Carol Rogers is taking the dog's side in this debate. "Snakes. I'm not really into snakes. No. No snakes," she said. "But, I do love dogs."

An animal ban may not happen at all, but Arnett thinks if you end up banning one animal, you may have to ban all of them.

"If you are going to do one why not do them all? You treat one person different than you treat another? That ain't right," he said.

The research into limiting or even banning animals on River Street is still in the very early stages, according to city manager Rochelle Small-Toney. She said another issue is the unpredictability of some animals, especially in large crowds and during festivals.

The city has had Mewborn and his roommate, along with their snakes, removed from River Street after recent complaints.

However, they keep going back. He said he understands the fears, but his next step will be to apply for city permit to be able to set up on River Street.

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