PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — The owner of an alligator captured in Beechview was back in court Thursday morning to face dozens of counts of animal neglect.
KDKA was there as Mark McGowan walked into municipal court with his attorney Komroon Maknoon.
“He misses Chomp. That was his buddy,” said Maknoon.
McGowan didn’t say anything on camera, but his attorney explained why his client waived his right to a preliminary hearing on 38 counts of neglect and cruelty.
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“I learned that there were three body cameras that had audio and video. There were also pictures taken by law enforcement and the expert from the zoo that went in, so my perspective, we could have a hearing, but truly the best evidence to analyze to see if something was done wrong would be watching that stuff,” said Maknoon.
McGowan’s five-foot alligator, Chomp, escaped from his Beechview home back in June. A few days later, police and animal care and control officers seized dozens of exotic animals from his house after doing a well-being check.
Investigators say they were living in poor conditions.
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- Owner Of Escaped Alligator Facing Neglect, Cruelty Counts
“There is a question as far as the reptiles. Where do they fall as being within the statute?” said Maknoon.
Maknoon said his client is licensed by the Commonwealth for being a reptile dealer. He said McGowan has worked in the industry for 20 years and goes to expos where he buys and sells and that’s where he’d take Chomp to educate kids.
“He loves his animals and he’d like to have him, but the most important thing right now is for him to be able to stay in this industry,” said Maknoon. “It’s been devastating for him,” said Maknoon.
As far as next steps go, Maknoon said they’ll review the evidence then have an expert take a look at everything.
Stay with KDKA for the latest on this developing story.