Off-leash snake gets a ticket in Sioux Falls

Leash laws aren’t just for dogs in Sioux Falls.

The Argus Leader reports that Jerry Kimball is out $190 for letting his pet “run loose.” He owns a snake.

“It was April Fool’s Day, so I thought he was playing a joke,” Kimball tells the paper. “They’re not fast creatures. They’re not going to run away.”

“He was literally asking me to put a rope around my snake,” said Kimball, who posted a photo of his ticket on Facebook in disgust. “I was like ‘dude, no.’ I was dumbfounded.”

The city’s animal control officer is unmoved. “If it’s in public and it’s not on a leash, it’s at large. The ordinance doesn’t really distinguish between animals,” she said.

The impetus for the leash law ticket on April 1 was what Kimball calls an “educational meet and greet,’ which amounts to being present in public with snakes and welcoming the curious. He’s a fairly regular fixture at city parks in the warmer months, appearing alongside his fiancé and fellow snake appreciators.

“In the summer, it’s every weekend,” said Kimball’s fiancé, Jennifer Loguidice.

Kimball’s not the only snake lover who frequents public spaces.

Jesse Rierson, vice president of a reptile appreciation nonprofit called the Sioux Falls Herpetological Society, goes to Sertoma Park once or twice a week in the summer to let kids meet snakes. The group also visits Pet Smart, day cares, schools and other public events.

Once or twice a summer, Animal Control comes around after a report from a park visitor. Only once was he asked to pick up a nearby snake, which he did until the complaining party left the park.

“I’ve been told by every other officer that it was okay for me to have them in the grass as long as they’re right next to me.” Rierson said.

Kimball says he will represent himself and fight the ticket in court.