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Owner of pet snake upset about getting evicted from his Osoyoos apartment
A young Osoyoos man says he has been forced to leave his apartment because he owns a pet snake, which he insists “is no more dangerous than a goldfish.”
Sterling Brooks, 21, who moved to Osoyoos from Oshawa, Ont. one year ago, said he was originally going to fight the eviction notice given to him last week.
Considering it would have taken up to eight months to get a hearing before the provincial residential tenancy tribunal and the fact he doesn’t want to live in a building where he and his pet are n’t welcomed, Brooks has decided to move out and “get on with my life.”
However, he still doesn’t feel it’s fair or warranted to have been forced to move under all of the circumstances.
The property manager for the apartment building Brooks has lived in for the past 12 months on 89 Avenue admitted several tenants complained about him owning a snake and they held a strata council meeting recently and the board was unanimous in requesting that Brooks be evicted if he was unwilling to get rid of his snake.
Brooks is the proud owner of a four-year-old ball python he has named Oro Chimaru, which is Japanese for “snake man.”
His snake is two-and-a-half feet in length and spends the vast majority of his life sleeping in an enclosed aquarium, said Brooks.
The only time his snake leaves his aquarium is when Brooks removes the aquarium’s top cover and picks the snake up to caress and show some affection, he said.
He has been fascinated by less-popular creatures and says his ball python is the best pet he has ever owned.
“When I lived in Ontario, I got a job at the Toronto Zoo and I met a private (snake) breeder there and I ended up buying my snake off of him,” he said. “I’ve had a love of animals since I was a kid and I’m particularly fond of animals that most people don’t understand.
“We live in a world where most people are afraid of spiders and snakes and I just don’t get it. It’s simply a stigma because snakes like mine are no more dangerous than a goldfish.”
Brooks insists the only reason he was given an eviction notice was because of the uproar caused two months ago when a huge python escaped from an enclosure in a New Brunswick apartment, climbed through some pipes, fell through a ceiling and ended up strangling two young brothers to death.
He would “understand perfectly” why some people would be upset if he owned a large or dangerous snake, but Oro Chimaru is tiny and poses no threat to anyone, said Brooks.
“This is really a case of people not understanding and over reacting,” said Brooks, who works in sales for a telephone company in town. “What happened in New Brunswick was a complete freak accident and something that would happen only once in a lifetime. It’s just awful what happened to those kids and I would never be in favour of a huge snake like that living in an apartment building.
“But my snake is harmless … he sleeps 20 hours a day and when I hold him, he’s friendly and cuddly. Like other pet owners like to say, he’s a part of my family. I think it’s ridiculous that this has happened because I own a small snake.”
Brooks reiterated he was going to fight the eviction notice, but has decided otherwise and will be moving out within the next month.
“I’ve been offered a place by friends and they actively embrace pets,” he said. “I’d rather get out of a place that is run by people who make up the rules as they go along. It’s not right, but I guess it’s time to move on.”
Ashley Lutke, the property manager of the building Brooks lives in, said she had no choice but to issue the eviction notice to Brooks.
“My hands are tied,” she said. “The building strata have made it clear they don’t want this snake in the building. He’s been very aware that he’s more than welcome to stay if he gets rid of his snake.
“The strata council has made a decision and I have to do my job and that’s why the eviction notice was given.”
The property management company she works for also offered Brooks another place to stay in town, but he didn’t return several calls or emails, she said.
Brooks confirmed he was offered another place to stay in town that allows pets, including his snake, but he wasn’t willing to move there.
“It was substandard and not what I was looking for,” he said.
Lutke says Brooks never informed her he had a pet snake during his initial interview to rent the apartment and she only found out a few weeks ago by a tenant in the building.
“There is nothing in our records which indicate he had a pet snake and I know he never told me … I’m sure I would have remembered something like that,” she said.
She has done everything she can to assist Brooks during this dispute, but the fact remains several tenants have complained about the snake and the strata board has voted in favour of issuing an eviction notice, she said.
She is “very happy” Brooks has found another place to live in town with his snake, she said.
“We tried our best to try and work this out.”