OWOSSO (WJRT) (06/17/2019) - An Owosso family forced to find a new home for their pet alligator after it escaped for a second time from its home.
The family says the alligator is like a member of the family. But the Owosso Police Department says a city ordinance means they have to find Yoshi a new home.
A police dash camera shows the second unusual call in two days of a family member helping officers retrieve a pet alligator Monday night.
"They've done some preventative maintenance on the cage so it doesn't happen a third time," said Owosso Public Safety Chief Kevin Lenkart.
He said the owner was issued a citation and referred to an alligator sanctuary in southern Michigan, because pet alligators are not legal in the city. The state of Michigan, however, does not have any laws about exotic pets.
"He's really upset right now because he's got two weeks to get rid of her," Denise Spencer said of her youngest son, who cares for the female alligator he's owned for about a decade.
She says he accepts responsibility for failing to latch her cage properly, but is struggling with the idea of giving her up:
"It's kind of like his kid," she said. "He swims with her, he takes her out, he kisses her on the face."
If Yoshi has to leave, Spencer hopes the alligator goes to a place where she can truly be an alligator.
"I would like to see her live as a normal alligator -- go from pond to pond," she said.
Park manager Peter Critchlow of the Critchlow Alligator Sanctuary in Calhoun County said relocating alligators is not unusual in Michigan, but the process is hard on the animals. He does not recommend people keeping them as pets.
"It's very stressful for them," he said. "They go through a depression and they're homesick for a while."
Critchlow said the sanctuary has received three alligators from pet owners in Michigan in just the past two weeks.
Police are allowing the Spencers to keep Yoshi for 10 days until she can be rehomed.
"My hope is she will find a nice place to live out however long she's going to live," Spencer said.