'See you later, alligator,' pet owner says

July 26, 2006 at 6:31 PM

BAY SHORE, N.Y., July 26 (UPI) -- A Bay Shore, N.Y., man calls his 3-year-old pet alligator, Caution, "a sweetheart" but state officials say a gator is gator -- and illegal to own.

State officials took Caution from Kevin Semeran's home Friday, and cited him Monday for two counts of animal cruelty because a couple of snakes in tanks outside his bedroom window were dehydrated, New York's Newsday reported Wednesday.

Semeran said he was "heartbroken" by the loss of his pet, who he said was leash trained and fed a diet of fish, mice, crickets and grasshoppers.

The pet store employee is nicknamed "Ace Ventura" -- after the Jim Carrey movie about a man with an unusual affinity for animals. His menagerie includes a dog, turtle, birds and a hedgehog.

He said he was unaware New York prohibits keeping alligators as pets, no matter how cuddly their owners think they might be.

As for the animal cruelty charge, he said the snakes' owner had only recently left them in his custody. He said the owner had received them as a gift, but was afraid of them.

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