“I’m the zookeeper,” says West Hartford zealot

AJ Gutman’s Steele Road chalet has become an animal sanctuary, according to a fawning, ridiculous story in today’s Hartford Courant.

Gutma’s got 30 iguanas, “a turtle, two tortoises, several geckos and other lizards, some frogs, a few parrots, and a ‘genetically diverse’ dog named Tali, between 50 and 60 animals in all. She doesn’t keep a precise count.” the story reported.

Clearly, the piece was written because Gutman is trying to get $15,000 annually in donations to keep her menagerie fed and content in her 9-room home on a quiet residential street.

I haven’t looked up the relevant statute, but can it be possible that you can’t have two dozen little dogs in your home but you can have the Bronx Zoo? I hope not.

There’s a place in the world for kind-hearted souls like Mrs. Gutman. But it’s not in the middle of densely populated West Hartford. It’s out in the country, where animals in this quantity belong. We can’t have people operating private zoos in their homes like this or there’s no point to regulating what owners do at all.

I trust that a zoning enforcement officer will be knocking on Mrs. Gutman’s door tomorrow morning.



Filed under Hartford Courant, iguanas, News, pets, Public safety, reptiles, West Hartford, Zoning, zoning enforcement officer

3 responses to ““I’m the zookeeper,” says West Hartford zealot

  1. As far as I know she hasn’t been bothering her neighbors and I would suspect she takes very good care of her animals. They happen to be a very nice family and Dr. Gutman has even served in Iraq. It’s not the Bronx Zoo.. she loves reptiles.. it’s not like she owns chickens and a cow or two. So what is everyone’s problem? What do you care what people do in the privacy of their own home? Maybe instead of lambasting her and giving her and her family a hard time she should be encouraged to share her knowledge of these creatures with our school kids or even some of the folks in the local nursing homes.

  2. B

    I’m with you whdad. It was a stupid story made worse by the failure to make the obvious connection to the dog lady. I’m not sure how you regulate the number of pets, other than dogs and cats, given the variety in sizes (how many goldfish can you have? Maybe by total weight?) but at this level it seems like a no-brainer.

  3. Rick Liftig

    Just for the record, the zoning enforcement officer only shows up if there is a complaint (or egregious violation that is evident from the street). Apparently, one of the dog lady’s neighbors was not happy. To my knowledge, this person never made his/her feelings public.

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