Winston-Salem reptile rescue center ordered to move

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WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. -- A herpetologist known for rescuing and rehabilitating reptiles out of a home in Winston-Salem is now being told he needs to move his business.

Chad Griffin, the owner of CCSB Reptile Rescue and Rehab Center, has been running the business out of his father’s home on Rickard Road. City officials had visited the home in the past, and let Griffin continue to have the animals there, but that has since changed.

“Us, our family, and the animals are getting caught in the middle of a skirmish,” Griffin said.

Two weeks ago, Griffin removed an alligator from a home in Forsyth County. It was located near the former site of Griffin’s business, but Griffin maintains it was not his.

“Most people are responsible, but sometimes people are irresponsible or they do stupid stuff,” Griffin said.

He believes the alligator was either let go by its owner (which he says is not the norm), it escaped, or someone may have dropped it off thinking the rescue and rehab center was still located there.

However, some of his neighbors do believe the alligator was his, and that prompted the city to make another visit to the home.

“We were legal, we were fine, we were doing what we were doing and then with this newest issue coming up, now it’s a problem again; what we do has been a problem. Now we are working with them to try to come to a peaceful resolution,” Griffin said.

City officials say, during their previous visits, they were unable to prove that Griffin was running a business out of the home. However, they say thanks to information provided by neighbors, they were able to prove that it was a business.

The city admits that many people do run businesses out of their homes, but there cannot be exterior evidence of a business in residential areas. In Griffin’s case, they say, the main issue is that he has “kennels” on the property and kennels are not allowed in residential areas.

“So basically it’s become about the business. It’s not so much about the animals this time, there’s just been another route that’s been found to come after it,” Griffin said.

Now, Griffin has two months to remove all business-related objects and animals from the property. The alligator, which is being housed on his property, must be removed within ten days; along with the kennels used to house alligators. Venomous snakes which are not Griffin’s pets must be removed within 30 days.

“You’re telling us what we can’t do, where we can’t go, so start telling us what we can do and where we can go,” Griffin said, of the city.

City officials say Griffin will have to identify potential sites for the center and they will let him know if they’re acceptable. They say they believe his business is a good, worthwhile business and they want to help him with the process.

“The ultimate end result is to make sure that the animals and the public, get what they need; which is safety,” Griffin said. “We still have a job to do and if we don’t do our job, then the public’s not safe. There’s nobody else out there doing what I’m doing, not anywhere around here.”

Griffin says the alligator which was removed a couple weeks ago will be taken to a gator farm down south. He also says he is working with local agencies to find places for the other reptiles.

It is his hope to someday open a “visiting reptile facility,” where the public can see and learn about the reptiles in a secure and safe environment.

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