Bill passage paves the way for veteran to keep lynx at home

SALEM, Ore. -- A bill that will allow a Gladstone Marine veteran to keep his pet lynx is on the way to Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber's desk.

If signed into law, SB 1584 will allow the Oregon Department of Agriculture to issue permits to people so they may legally own certain exotic animals provided they meet a number of requirements.

The animal must also aide its owner with some disability.

Sen. Alan Olsen of Canby sponsored the bill specifically with Patrick Clark in mind. Clark has PTSD and raised his pet lynx for 16 years from the time it was 10 days old. He says the lynx helps his disorder.

"She's my family," says Clark. "I've had her forever, so she's like losing my kid or keeping my kid. That's what it boils down to."

A state law passed in 2009 made it illegal to own many wild animals in Oregon. A neighbor complained about the giant cat, citing the state and local ordinances banning exotic pets.

Clark missed a deadline grandfathering in such pets under the state regulations limiting who can keep them.

His hometown of Gladstone will have to change a local ordinance before the lynx is fully legal. A majority of the city council has supported Clark through the process.

Clark says, "The support's been incredible. To be honest, it's been overwhelming in a good way. There's been some critics out there, like I said, and I understand that too. I see both sides.

Kitzhaber has indicated he will sign the bill into law.