Please keep your python off the Greenway!

I’ve gotten pretty good about not freaking out when I spot a snake on a run. But passing a python wrapped around a woman’s neck on the Bluffton Greenway last week really pushed my buttons.

My first thought, immediately after putting a good bit of distance between us, was to call the cops. I’m sure this snake wasn’t dangerous, except maybe to an untended baby or a small pet. But was it fair for this woman to scare snake-phobic trail users?

This happened in a small town, where the police get called all the time for incidents far more trivial, in my opinion. But I resisted, because I could already imagine the snake owner’s outcry: Why are people so biased about snakes? Other people get to take their pets for a walk. And so on.

Other than ranting to my sister, who wasn’t scared but gamely joined me in leaving the Greenway to run on the road as far away as possible from the snake carrier when we passed her again on the way back, I didn’t make a fuss.

But after reading about a guy who was fined last month for taking his python in a South Dakota park, now I wonder.

The Sioux Falls animal control official involved in the case said all pets must be restrained, either on a leash or in a cage or other enclosure. In the case of a snake, it could be held. The arrested man was just letting his slither on the ground.

“That’s my purpose in life: To let people know that snakes aren’t killers,” he said. “What better way to give back than to help people understand these misunderstood creatures?”

Um, okay. I get that my fear of snakes isn’t rational. But other snake lovers don’t necessarily agree with taking pythons out in public, either. Besides the potential for bad publicity, apparently it stresses out the snakes as much as it does me.

There is “absolutely no benefit for the animal to be taken in public places,” wrote a woman named Deborah in a recent post on ballpythons.net. “The benefit is only for the owner looking for attention.”

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