Owner apologizes after snake ‘terrorized’ Raleigh community last summer
RALEIGH, NC (WNCN) — The owner of a poisonous zebra cobra who was on the loose in Raleigh last summer made his final court appearance Friday morning.
Chris Gifford’s snake disappeared for several months before being spotted on a porch in a northwest Raleigh neighborhood last June.
He has this message: “All I can really say is I just apologize to the community, what I did, terrified a lot of people.”
Gifford did not report the snake missing.
“Huge mistake I made, clearly I know there are a lot of people keeping these animals, hopefully they learn from the mistake,” he said.
In court on Friday, Gifford’s last remaining charge, of failing to report a missing snake, was dismissed. The other 39 charges of improper fencing and mislabeled fencing were dropped last summer when he reached a plea deal
His attorney, Anna Felts, said he followed the rules of a year’s probation and paid more than $13,000 he was ordered to pay to cover emergency responder costs.
“He did everything to fix it, and you know, as we discussed it, I really think the community learned a lot about snakes and protection and laws were changed,” Felts said.
After months of debate, the Raleigh City Council passed a wildlife ban last month. People who already own prohibited animals like poisonous snakes that can cause death or serious illness and injury can keep them as long as they are registered with the city.
Gifford’s advice to such owners is to learn from him.
“If anything ever happens, you make the call, the call that I didn’t make,” he said.