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September 25, 2003
CONTACT: Joy Hill (352) 732-1225

Its not unusual for people to travel with their pets. But with alligators? Thats what faced Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission Officer Danton Jones when he responded to an anonymous call reporting such a thing late Wednesday.

The caller told the FWC dispatcher that someone driving a green Kenworth tractor trailer parked at Petro Truck Stop at CR 318 and Interstate 75 had a couple of live alligators in the storage area under the sleeper compartment of the truck.

When Jones arrived at the truck stop, his first obstacle was to find the right semi-truck out of about 250 parked there. When he finally located what he thought was the right one, he sat down and waited for the driver to come out of the restaurant.

About 20 minutes later, Dennis Avery, 58, of Norwich, Conn., came back to his truck where Jones was waiting.

I asked him if he had alligators in his truck, and he said, yes, and proceeded to open the storage compartment and show me, said Jones.           

Sure enough, there was about a 3-foot alligator and a 5-foot caiman staring up at Jones with their mouths wide open.

I told Avery I was used to seeing alligators in pickup trucks and airboats, but not tractor trailers, said Jones.

Avery told Jones the critters were his pets and hes had the caiman about 10 years and the alligator about a year. He said he likes to travel with them and he treats them like dogs. He admitted, however, that he didnt have any written permits to keep the reptiles.

Jones issued Avery three misdemeanor citations and a notice to appear in Marion County court on Oct. 30 for the following:

bulletNo Class II permit for the caiman
bulletNo acquisition records for either the alligator or the caiman
bulletUnlawful possession and transport of an alligator

Jones transported the reptiles to a secure, permitted facility for safe keeping.





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