Banning "Exotic" Pets Is Senseless
Non-Domesticated Pet Vilification
It is often claimed by animal rights group that exotic pets are dangerous, that they spread disease, encourage poaching and the illegal wildlife trade, that they are unsuitable for living in captivity, and a slew of other bullet points of 'bad stuff'. All of these things are either half-truths, myths, or never apply to the majority of exotic animals kept as pets, but people are rather comfortable with accepting that any animal that doesn't fit the typical mold must be an unethical choice of pet.
A safer society?
- Idiotic Pet Laws | Banned Animals in New York City
A descriptive list of some of the most harmless animal species that are ludicrously banned as pets in New York City.
If I could select one thing for a reader to take from this article, I would hope to irrefutably present that laws should never be enforced on the basis of public indifference combined with ignorance and false information.
The main people who are involved with delivering the majority of information out there about telling people what to think about captive exotic animals are legislators, public figures, celebrities, and several classes of activists with ideologies that are inherently against so-called human exploitation of beings.
They would like to control the mindsets of the uninvolved majority by deliberately skewing information as though there are no gray areas. Not untouched is a story that has resulted in a turning point in exotic animal legislation, and is repeatedly used as an excuse to attack every person with an atypical pet.
Terry Thompson, owner of a menagerie of several large exotic animals, freed them from his private facility in Zanesville, Ohio under a state of apparent mental distress. Whatever the reason, he maliciously cost the animals their lives and may have ended the lifestyles of countless people.
A few animals that are banned in some areas
- Boa constrictors
- Prairie dogs
- Sugar gliders
- Pot-bellied pigs
- What is an Exotic Pet?
When people say "wild animals are not pets", which animals are they referring to?
- How to Respond to People Who Are Against Wild or Exotic Pet Ownership
There doesn’t seem to be any defined standard for the development of legislation resulting from single catalytic incidents.
It is often the uniqueness of an incident that prompts people to consider bans, not the number of occurrences.
In other words, people often have knee-jerk reactions to things that are abnormal or things that they themselves do not consider necessary, and therefore in there minds it should be eliminated.
It is discrimination. Pit bull and other 'bully breed'-type dog owners receive similar criticism but there is also much resistance against this because so many people own them. As a general rule, exotic pet owners, aside from owners of fish, reptiles, and birds, are far and few between; a strong minority.
The more popular exotic pet trades have a larger following and therefore are harder for animal rights activists to take down. It is rare for someone who isn't invested with uncommon exotic mammal ownership to stand up for the rights of that group.
Examining the phrase: “exotic animals are not pets”
This is a typical statement that is often asserted without any assessment of its meaning, yet people just swallow it as fundamental truth. A pet is generally considered to be an animal, and it doesn't necessarily have to be a companion animal, that lives with its owner. The term “exotic animal” elicits different ideas for different people. Most people don’t have qualms with keeping ‘exotic’ pets such as parrots, which are actually more demanding to keep than conventionally perceived. Owners and friends of owners of such ‘exotic’ animals incorrectly believe that the bans do not possess the potential to trickle down and harm their lifestyles. They also falsely believe that many groups active in creating these bans are not against many more conventionally kept animals and even some domesticated animals.
Why are exotic animals not “pets”?
A statement I can agree with is that many exotic animals make bad pets, if bad is defined by what the majority of the public would expect out of a companion animal like a dog or a cat. Many exotic animals, or non-domesticated pets, lack the level of tameness, adaptability to the human lifestyle, and resulting simplistic care that many are used to from, say, golden retrievers, but the existence of such 'easier' pets do not mean other animals can't be kept at all (or that dog ownership is problem-free as well).
On the other hand, some domesticated pets can be just as, if not more, challenging to manage than some exotic pets. The key to the proper comprehension of this idea is that each animal varies on a species by species basis. Exotic animals have different degrees of care and do not fall under one class. Even domesticated animals such as different dog breeds can have more advanced care and will certainly have a poor quality of life in the hands of the wrong owner or living situation.
Consider this article by the ASPCA. Exotic pets are according to the article, difficult to care for, taken from the wild, bred in what are similar to puppy mills, harm the environment, spread disease, ect. Many of these statements do not apply to all situations, or are inaccurate and misrepresented.
In fact, some dogs and cats ARE “difficult” to care for, bred in puppy mills, harm the environment, and spread disease. They simply can’t be taken from the wild because they aren’t from the wild, but what difference does that make? Most exotic pets, especially the most controversial exotic mammals are rarely, if ever, taken from the wild. Here is another Animal Planet-associated article that lumps exotic animals together and attributes problems to them that are easily found in domesticated animals.
People may have chosen a specific set of pets that are ‘acceptable’ to keep based on their usual temperaments, but a common illusion present is that this is somehow more ethical than choosing what is considered an alternative pet.
The common logic exercised is that exotics require a very high level of care (or that the animal’s needs could never be met because it is “wild”), therefore an exotic animal is likely to end up in a bad situation. This is partially true, depending on the species. However, animals such as big cats, bears, large primates and other such “zoo” animals, are widely exaggerated by media figures as having high incidents of being kept as true pets with increasing demand.
Most people who own these animals privately are not keeping them simply as pets, or these owners have been involved with wild animals as an occupation. Permits for these animals in most states are issued for educational, sanctuary, and exhibition purposes. In other words, the bans would not apply to such owners. Permits are more likely to be issued to someone who is planning to make money off the captive animals than someone who is highly qualified and caring, simply wanting a 'pet'.
Leaving the controversial topic of privately keeping such large and potentially dangerous animals aside, there are far more owners of ‘exotics’, in which these animals are smaller and pose little or no threat to people, or at least are equal to or less than the risk of owning many domesticated pets. If you have access to the internet or television, the numbers of attacks by dogs are evident. In this case, owners of 'pitt bulls' can also identify with facing the stigmas that result in proposed bans despite the occurrences of attacks resulting in deaths with other dogs.
- How to Care for a Pet Tiger
This article is a realistic, informed look on the proper management of one of the most controversial pet keeping choices.
A Crowded Reptile Show
Why is the Exotic Pet Trade a "Billion Dollar Industry"?
“According to the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), the exotic pet trade is a multi-billion dollar industry, second only to drugs and weapons on the black market". The thought of shady dealers profiting to such an extent over the selling of exotic animals such as tigers, servals, or even fennec foxes to the naïve public is enough to rattle the cage of any animal lover. How can sales of such animals be so prolific yet you've probably never even seen one?
I often see this statement alongside articles that cover the sporadic incidences of an escaped pet bobcat or discovery of a large boid in a bathtub. Many organizations hope that statements like these will enlist this depiction in your mind. Yet if one realized that the exotic pet trade applies to tropical fish, small harmless reptiles, budgies, ferrets and chinchillas as well, the statement is far less incriminating. It’s already well known information that millions of people keep these ‘exotic’ animals, and most pet supply providers respond to the demand to care for them. It is simply the opinion of the Humane Society and other similarly-minded organizations that all these people should not keep such animals because they are not domesticated.
What makes dogs and cats so appropriate and ethical to keep to the majority of the public? There are animal rights groups existing that also seek to eliminate this practice. We may have evolved alongside our trusty companions, but common sense shows that this does not make these animals immune to mistreatment. In fact, it’s just the opposite. Unlike many exotics, dogs and cats are killed in animal shelters. Dogs and cats that become victims of animal cruelty can be found almost daily. I am subscribed to many organizations always in need of donations to attempt to deal with this massive problem that humans are not taking enough responsibility for.
Some of these issues are so prevalent now, that they are largely ignored. Exotic animals may require advanced care, but they are currently, and most likely will always remain unpopular pet choices, aside from the unfortunate exotics that are victims of being sold by common chain stores, such as iguanas, hook bills, and ferrets. A real issue among all pets is their selling as merchandise in retail stores combined with cheap pricing. Many advanced exotic animals are not inexpensive or readily available to such a scale.
Are you concerned about being harmed by an exotic pet?
This brings me back to the incident in Ohio that made national headlines, and the disbelief people experienced viewing the pictures of majestic wild animals deceased and sprawled across the farmland. The sheer emotional power from this incident is spawning several legislators to address this issue due to a sick man's actions. A situation of course which has never happened before.
I believe a change of perspective is needed to view the true severity of this conflict, or lack thereof. This situation, as rare as it was, did not result in any human fatalities. The animals paid the price for a cruel person’s selfishness. The mass deaths of 48 large species of carnivores that are frequently romanticized by people is upsetting, yet people do not take into account the dogs and cats that are being euthanized due to humans daily. I for one, do not value one mammal’s life over the other because one is more “beautiful” or “rare”. The captive animals also do not have any conservation value, and contrary to the media’s belief, they are not “rare” in captivity. Dogs and cats are also shot frequently in this country as menaces to societies, during police raids, or for being feral. We have many acts of horrible animal cruelty occurring in agriculture that would easily be resolved if the public was as adamant on banning factory farming as they are with exotics. How many critics of private exotic ownership have purchased dogs, or non-farm raised meats?
The Ohio incident was an incredibly exceptional case, one that should have been prevented by legislation barring a person convicted of animal cruelty from owning animals, even “only” a domestic cat. So why are people exploring bans and not regulations? Why are exotic owners being penalized for the state’s lack of any regulations for owning such a class of animal? The state is now conjuring up laws such as requiring owners of large exotics to register their animals and enacting confiscations of animals that are being abused. If there is a silver lining to this situation, I’m glad people are waking up on the lack of these minimum responsibilities.
Bans like this are routinely proposed
Escapes by large exotics that are potentially dangerous are always a possibility, even with professional zoos. Incidences of people getting killed who didn’t knowingly place themselves at risk by living with or visiting a dangerous exotic are not only rare, they may not have ever occurred. The same cannot be said for dog attacks. The mental depiction of walking down the street and succumbing to a full grown Siberian tiger has not happened in the USA. And if it did or does ever occur, the resulting statistics that indicate your chances of becoming such a victim are still pathetically low. I would imagine that if such ownership were restricted to responsible owners of inspected facilities, those chances would continue to decrease to invisibility.
Yet people continue to push for bans, and do so rapidly when any isolated incident occurs. It’s as though private rights are hanging by a thread simply because it is an unconventional lifestyle and it will unfairly be eliminated if negative incidents occur at all. This is not holding them to the same standard of other commonalities in our lives.
Potentially dangerous exotic animals (that is, animals that actually have the capacity to kill) in the pet industry should be regulated, just like anything else that involves a direct or potential negative impact on people and animals. Captive exotics are living, feeling beings that depend on humans for a quality life, and their needs are no less significant than any captive dog, mouse, or fish. I fully support reasonable regulations that will decrease the chances that pets end up in bad situations, such as the highly televised Ohio tragedy. To me, this is more important than the alleged public safety issue, because incidents involving people who are not directly involved with the animal are rare.
Why do people even want to own exotics?
Is it due to rampant narcissism and to show off to people who “only” have conventional pets? When did it become convenient to castigate a group of people for being individuals? I don’t understand why people do extreme sports, intentionally get drunk, or enjoy roller coasters. I like keeping domesticated animals, but also enjoy the challenge of keeping an exotic and the rewards of being able to experience the unique behavior and attributes to said animal.
I feel a sense of accomplishment when my pets are content in their quarters. It is a unique opportunity to achieve any possible level of bonding with such an animal, and intellectually stimulating to understand their dietary and behavioral needs. I wonder why this is difficult to empathize with.
I will not hesitate to object to any animal being kept improperly. Some species of animals just simply make poor privately owned household pets, due to either sheer size or its requirements for an unreasonable home habitat, social structure, and enrichment schedule.
However, I still feel that if someone can exhibit the qualifications, the permit should be available as long as the populations of these animals are regulated just like dogs and cats should be.
Owning animals of this stature is not a hobby, it’s a lifestyle. The proper owner will put the needs of the animals before their own conventional endeavors. The anti-exotic sentiment is largely the result of irrational stigma, and not much else.
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