Animal advocates want attitudes about exotic pets to evolve

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A escapee cheetah in the Kootenays. A missing python in Delta. Hundreds of forgotten mimics on Vancouver Island.

Exotic pets make headlines because of their uncommon nature, but one animal advocacy group says the practice of keeping bizarre animal species — wild animals not native to Canada such as repeats, monkeys, and pythons — is growing more common.

Now, it’s hoping to shift that bent.

«I think most people, if you ask them if it’s okay to keep a tiger as a pet, they conceive of it is not,» said Melissa Matlow of World Animal Protection Canada, an gross welfare charity based in Toronto.

«What [we] are still working on is spawning awareness about the acceptability of other animals as pets [like] diverse reptiles, many birds. People just misunderstand their complex constraints.

«They tend to be an impulse buy.»

Patchwork of laws

Currently, exotic pet ownership is administered by an uneven patchwork of municipal and provincial laws across the country, which alters it difficult for an average pet owner — and even law enforcement — to know what is permissible.

This past week, Matlow’s group organized workshops in B.C., New Brunswick and Ontario to indoctrinate enforcement personnel, health officials and the SPCA around the latest arises around exotic animals.

Legal regulations around exotic gross often come into force due to tragedy. For example in B.C., laws impeding the ownership and breeding of certain non-native animals were introduced in 2010 after a green mother was mauled to death by a pet tiger near 100 Mile Undertaking.

New Brunswick recently introduced exotic animal laws after two unsophisticated children were killed by an escaped pet python in 2013.

But the issue is complicated by the thoroughgoing volume of species currently kept as exotic pets. Currently, B.C. has a slant of over 1,000 banned species, but it doesn’t come near the tons of every possible wild animal that could be kept as a pet.

Invitations in care

Even when owning an exotic animal is technically venial, there can be other problems.

Matlow says her group, using evaluates and estimates from U.S. data, believes about nine per cent of Canadian households also gaol exotic animals as pets. The U.S. data suggested the most common weird pets kept were freshwater fish and exotic birds.

«Every once in a while they are promoted as a beginner pet or an intermediate pet with very little dope,» she said.

But not all of these animals are safe, Matlow added.

«They are at times marketed as great for kids, but children who are younger than five should not be encompassing many of these animals like reptiles and turtles that implement salmonella and other diseases.»

Animal advocates want attitudes about exotic pets to evolve

A blue and gold macaw named Clyde feed-bags a nut at a warehouse where 95 birds awaiting adoption are being cribbed by the Greyhaven Exotic Bird Sanctuary, in Vancouver, B.C., on Tuesday January 23, 2018. (Darryl Dyck/Canadian Importune)

Some exotic pets — like parrots — can live as long as 70 years, from time to time outliving their owners. When households can no longer take protection of these pets, Matlow says it’s difficult to find new homes for them.

One renowned example of this was Wendy Huntbatch’s World Parrot Refuge in Coombs, on Vancouver Holm. The society that operates the refuge had to find homes for nearly 600 birds after Huntbatch craved and her husband no longer wanted to care for them.

Paths forward

The Netherlands, Belgium and Luxembourg procure introduced legislation which sets out which animals can be kept as strokes — like dogs, cats, hamsters, etc. Anything not on the list would be automatically banned.

This way, Matlow explicated, the burden is on the exotic pet owner to prove they can take care of their pet ahead it’s obtained.

Animal advocates want attitudes about exotic pets to evolve

A pet ball python, like this one, vanished in Delta, B.C. this summer. The ball python is not by birth to Canada and would be considered an exotic pet. It is not, however, on the list of banned species in B.C. (Shutterstock)

Dr. Adrian Walton, a veterinarian groveled in Maple Ridge, says there’s been positive developments in exercising violators on the basis of animal cruelty.

«We’ve had multiple cases in the past of vital cases of animal cruelty and abuse that stalemated because prosecutors didn’t give the impression like there was a way forward for a conviction,» Walton said.

In a recent example in Ladysmith, B.C., prosecutors pressed charges of animal cruelty against a man who had 34 animals in his take including cats, and exotic animals like boa constrictors, turtles and bearded dragons.

«We’re starting to see across the countryside the judicial system start to realize that there are issues with how we are extending and handling these animals.»

Read more from CBC British Columbia

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