Creve Coeur's City Council is considering legislation that would allow a resident to keep at least one monkey as an emotional support animal.
Texanne McBride-Teahan has sought accommodation under the federal Fair Housing Act to keep monkeys at her home despite a city ordinance prohibiting such animals as “inherently dangerous.”
A final vote is set for Nov. 12, and City Attorney Carl Lumley said Monday that McBride-Teahan’s attorneys have asked for some changes in the legislation by then.
The draft bill would let McBride-Teahan keep two monkeys as of 90 days after the law’s passage and only one monkey 180 days from the passage.
In case the measure does not pass, the city proposes to give McBride-Teahan up to three months to find new homes for all of her primates.
During public comment, Lori Koch — one of two attorneys representing McBride-Teahan — said that McBride-Teahan has owned monkeys which provide her with emotional support for over 20 years.
She currently owns a 15-year-old black-capped capuchin, a 2.5-year-old patas monkey and an 8.5-year-old bonnet macaque, Koch said.
McBride-Teahan began renting a home on Mosely Lane this summer, and her landlord agreed to allow the animals to live in the home, Koch said; trees and shrubbery prevent neighbors from seeing the front of her home.
In September, Ward 3 Councilwoman Charlotte D’Alfonso presented letters from two residents and added she’d heard from multiple other neighbors in the eight-home Mosley Lane subdivision, about monkeys those residents called dangerous.
Police Chief Glenn Eidman then said that McBride-Teahan received a citation on Sept. 9 for having three monkeys at her rented home, adding one city ordinance declares “non-human primates” to be “inherently dangerous.” Another ordinance prohibits anyone from keeping any exotic animal, including, but not limited to, those that have been declared to be inherently dangerous, he had said. He had said residents had contacted police about the monkeys in mid August.
Koch said McBride-Teahan has never received neighbor complaints about the monkeys before this summer.
St. Louis County recently issued a nondomestic animal license for the three monkeys following an examination of the animals and inspection of their living quarters, said Lori Koch, an attorney for McBride-Teahan.
Koch said McBride-Teahan has obtained a letter from a licensed professional counselor documenting her psychological disability and that the animals assist her with those symptoms.
“The city’s ordinance amounts to discrimination — these monkeys pose no threat to neighbors,” Koch said.
McBride-Teahan, also during public comment, said the monkeys have “helped me be successful, and they don’t bother my neighbors.” She asked that the monkeys be accommodated at the rental home until the end of her current lease.
Koch said that McBride-Teahan, to accommodate city concerns, would confine monkeys in indoor cages when she is not home; never allow monkeys to be unattended outdoors; and, when monkeys are outdoors in the rear yard, they would be on a leash in a cage and not visible to neighbors. Also, the legislation calls for purchase and maintenance of renter’s insurance that includes a minimum of $1 million coverage for any injuries that may be caused by the animals.
A biologist for international wildlife conservation organizations, Donna Hart, also spoke at the meeting.
Hart, who has a doctoral degree in primatology from Washington University, said such monkeys “are not domesticated animals and, therefore, should not be considered to be pets.” She said organizations such as the American Veterinary Medical Association and the Association of Zoos and Aquariums have voiced opposition to primates as pets.
“These are wild animals that don’t behave like domesticated pets – their reactions are those of wild animals, and they can be dangerous,” Hart said.
Koch called Hart “clearly a wild animal rights advocate” and questioned Hart’s contention that primates shouldn’t be kept as pets. Koch added that dogs more often bite and attack humans than do monkeys.