A St. Louis woman has come under fire from her neighbors and the suburban municipality she resides in for keeping three emotional support monkeys at her Creve Coeur home in order to help her cope with her PTSD from a past traumatic event.
Texanne McBride-Teahan claims she needs to live with her three small monkeys, which are bonnet macaques, in order to maintain her mental health. So does her doctor. McBride-Teahan’s neighbors, on the other hand, contest that any day now the monkeys might escape McBride-Teahan’s home and start eating the faces off of neighborhood children, or something.
The man leading the charge against McBride-Teahan’s emotional support monkeys is her next-door neighbor, Jim Hentschell. As Hentschell tells it, he’s just looking out for the community’s safety. And also, he’s a man of the law.
“I believe in the rule of law. If they are considered a dangerous animal and can carry something as nasty as hepatitis, they shouldn’t be here.”
Hentschell is referring to the following Creve Coeur ordinance.
Inherently Dangerous Animals. The following animals are hereby classified as inherently dangerous: any lion, tiger, leopard, ocelot, jaguar, cheetah, margay, mountain lion, Canada lynx, jaguarondi, bobcat, bear, hyena, wolf, wolf hybrid, coyote, alligator, crocodile, python, venomous reptile, venomous arthropod, or non-human primate.
[Ord. No. 5335 §2, 9-23-2013]
That is, of course, a bullshit excuse. A copout. If a law this arbitrary started fucking with Hentschell’s life it feels like a safe bet he might not react to that by standing at attention to the nearest American flag, saluting it, and proudly shouting, “Thank you, sir, may I have another.” He might, you know, challenge that law. Weird how that works, huh? (Also, an essential part of “the rule of law” is the ability to challenge those laws.)
To be fair, monkeys are illegal to own in Creve Coeur because in 1932 a circus train derailed just outside of town and the twenty chimpanzees that escaped from the monkey car ended up killing twelve townsfolk, including the mayor, in a confused rampage dubbed by the local papers of the day as, “The Night of the Monkeys.”
Oh, wait that never happened. No one has ever been hurt by a monkey in Creve Coeur. Also, this isn’t like, say, exotic pythons and lizards in Florida. These monkeys have zero chance of escaping and becoming an invasive species in Missouri. One good snow and they’re monkeycicles. The law is probably just a copy/paste from other towns’ municipal ordinances on animals. You really think at any point in history a couple Creve Coeur city councilmen sat down and did hours upon hours of research and deliberation about monkey safety?
And look, I get it. The words “Emotional Support Monkey” sound insane. No one is a bad person for having that reaction. Some lady moves in with three monkeys to your nice, normal, Midwestern subdivision and you start getting visions of that one weirdo lady in the news a few years ago who owned a chimp, gave it wine and Prozac, and watched it rip her friend’s face off. That’s pretty fair.
But every situation should be evaluated on its own and every person deserves to make their case. McBride-Teahan is no different. That’s the rule of law.
Unfortunately for McBride-Teahan, the Creve Coeur City Council later unanimously approved a motion forcing her to find new homes for her three monkeys.
This story was originally published September 17, 2019.