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Howard County Neighborhood Fights To Get Animal Sanctuary Closed

HOWARD COUNTY, Md. (WJZ)-- A 12-year-battle to close a Howard County animal rescue comes to an end this week. But the neighbors nearby still want the wildlife sanctuary gone.

Gigi Barnett has more on the controversy.

Since 1999, Colleen Layton-Robbins fought to keep her monkeys. She started with 30 primates and created Frisky's Wildlife Sanctuary. But over the years, new homes have sprung up around her Howard County rescue.

And those neighbors-- especially the ones who share a driveway with Frisky's-- wanted the monkeys gone.

"We were here first," Layton-Robbins said. "Keep in mind, when we had the sanctuary here, this was all farmland. You had to have three or more acres to live here."

But this week, a Howard County zoning board unanimously agreed that Layton-Robbins and her monkeys can stay.

"It has lifted such a cloud," she said. "I've been smiling for three days. My husband gets up at 3 o'clock in the morning and he says I'm smiling in my sleep."

Layton-Robbins said the county has never cited Frisky's for a violation, or found it unsafe for animals and people.

But neighbors fear that one of the animals will escape and pose a threat to homeowners.

"I don't know that anyone knows how dangerous monkeys are, or that they can carry disease until you really look into something like this," said one person.

Attorney Thomas Meachum represents some of the neighbors. He says this week's ruling may not be the last step for his clients.

"They were disappointed in the decision because it still allows the monkeys to stay, and it still permits other exotic animals to come in," he said.

Now that the county has agree that Frisky's can stay on this land, there is one stipulation: No more new monkeys. They can only stay on a temporary seven-day basis.

Layton-Robbins says her facility only cares for small animals and it cannot sustain large creatures like alligators.

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