Iguana Man Causes A Stir In Ocean City

OCEAN CITY — After receiving some odd complaints about a man and his reptile on the Ocean City Boardwalk, the City Council will now be debating at a future work session the definition of domesticated versus undomesticated animals, and what types of animals are allowed to be walking the resort’s streets.

Councilwoman Margaret Pillas brought up a complaint that she had received about a gentleman walking his large iguana on the Ocean City Boardwalk and as a result, scaring some pedestrians.

“I think we really need to have a discussion on what is considered a domesticated or an undomesticated animal,” said Pillas. “I know you can’t have one of those animals in your house in Ocean City without a permit, so I don’t understand how they would be allowed to be on the streets, let alone the Boardwalk.”

On Sept. 17, 2007, local resident Joseph Short, (or ‘Iguana Man’ as the council referred to him on Tuesday), was granted permission (via a 5-1 vote) to keep an iguana in his downtown home after a favorable recommendation on Short’s behalf was given by Animal Control Officer Donald Spence.

However, there was some uncertainty amongst council as to what that permit would allow Short to do with his iguana, and that debate will apparently continue in future weeks, as the issue will return at a future work session.

“The ordinance says that he can have [the iguana] in his domicile, but logic dictates that it only means that he can have the iguana in his home, and not walking the streets,” said Councilwoman Mary Knight. “I’ve been told that he’s sitting up on the Boardwalk and asking if people want to pet his iguana and that bothers me on so many different levels.”

City Solicitor Guy Ayres quipped that the ordinance would not allow Short and his iguana to have “free reign anywhere in Ocean City”, and that if the town excludes other so-called undomesticated animals, such as pigs or donkeys, the council would need to clarify the language of the ordinance to say that an iguana was considered an undomesticated animal.

However, Councilman Joe Hall stated that the council was blowing the issue completely out of proportion.

“I don’t find an iguana any more dangerous that some of the dogs that are up there on that Boardwalk,” he said. “We are overreacting and to be honest, I think there’s some scarier people on the Boardwalk than the iguana.”