Friday, May 19, 2017

Statement Regarding the South Carolina Exotic Pet Ban

More unnecessary exotic pet bans arise every year. This newly enacted law, H. 3531, is not that bad by itself. I am unaware of what other animals South Carolina prohibits the private possession of, but I am, for once, pleased to see that this law only regulates big cats, which does not include servals, caracals, Asian leopard cats, ect., bears, and great apes. Particularly interesting is that only great apes, not monkeys, are addressed when I often see them lumped into the same category. The family canidae is surprisingly not present as well.

All of these animals are large enough to cause significant injury or death to adult humans. There are no exceptions. The ‘least dangerous’ of the big cat group are cheetahs, snow and clouded leopards, but these are still sizable felines that regularly take down large prey in the wild. Their temperament and specialist hunting and prey preferences are the only factors that make serious attacks uncommon with them, but they should not be owned by ‘just anyone’.

All bears can be deadly and should be treated as such. As for great apes, recent legislation probably makes owning one privately today near impossible. Mostly chimps and less often orangutans have been owned as pets in the past; as far as I know gorillas and bonobos haven’t. Chimps are one of the most dangerous ‘exotic pets’ a person can own.

I’ll always maintain that anyone that can provide safe and secure care for large, potentially dangerous carnivores and primates should be permitted to, although they should be able to prove this. I don’t expect any state to entertain the idea that animal care ability, not a USDA license, should be the deciding factor. As is typical, such minimally licensed facilities are exempt.

There are, unfortunately, many smaller zoos that shouldn’t have these animals and wonderful private owners that should be allowed. A license, one that a private owner can’t get because the USDA doesn’t regulate pets, does not make these animals less dangerous to the public or the owner or protect their welfare, as the Animal Welfare Act enforces only the bare minimum standard of care. Many facilities have several violations but continue to operate. 

Unfortunately, these laws do not get things exactly right, but the lack of absurdly listed species in this ban make me cautiously optimistic; if there has to be a ban that reaches North Carolina I hope it follows suit.

“Prior to passage of the bill, South Carolina was one of only five states with virtually no laws regarding private possession of dangerous wild animals, which has resulted in situations such as a woman who was mauled by a relative’s pet black bear, an 8-year-old boy who was bitten by his family’s pet tiger, and the discovery of a tiger in a filthy, cramped cage in a citizen’s front yard – all of which happened in the state of South Carolina.”

The Humane Society’s dumbness knows no bounds as they list a bite and filthy cage as a reason to ban something, as though the exact same circumstances haven’t occurred with the accepted traditional pets.


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