REPTILES: Prevent the Unnecessary Prohibition!
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Recently, a bill was put out in place of the OSPCA. While the bill has every amazing, good intention for animals, there is more to it that is not mentioned. Soon, people who keep anything that is not a dog or cat might get affected by these new laws. Depending on severity, it can be as little as a hamster getting affected as they are considered exotic. The worst part, the information is incredibly vague and no one knows what is truly happening other than from the trickles of info coming out from people who are dealing directly with the attorney general. Anyone from a child with a pet gecko up to people who earn their living with reptiles will be affected.
In this situation, we are focusing on reptiles and amphibians that may be affected greatly. Reptiles are amazing pets, especially for those with allergies or do not have time for a less demanding addition to their home, but still being able to enjoy a pet with no negative impact on the animal or keeper. However, people do have a choice as some have the potential to be equally as interactive as a dog or cat.
Originally a prohibited list was mentioned for reptiles, but that has since changed to an "allowance" list, which is far worse. My concerns for an "allowance" list , are the 100's of species that pose zero threat, but may be unheard of to most people (example, uncommon gecko species). Would those ultimately get destroyed simply because whomever wrote the allowance list did not know they existed? We have no answers for the hundreds of questions being asked and wondered about.
We are making this petition to help prevent an unnecessary situation, but also educate those who do not understand or know that this has a great chance of happening. This is not a matter of "if" though.. it is more than likely when. Laws will affect many people and their living. People have grown their business with a lot of hard work. Many to the point of depending on reptiles for work. Reptile/Amphibian/Invert people are not very public so it isn't well known to how large the industry is. All the way from pet stores to the breeders, the expos (the taxes that goes towards the events for example).. we have easily 10 reptile expos a year and this is before all the pet stores and breeders paying tax. That's a large sum lost. I can’t even begin to describe how much it would actually affect people. We may be silent overall, but tax wise we do make a positive impact for the province, as well as our living. Many of us need our jobs.
I understand reptiles are looked at as something horrible more often than not because they do not look "cute". Especially on government standards, it poses a huge problem because the knowledge just isn't there to understand what they really are. They are no where near as bad as the public seems to think they are, and they are overall, less harmful than a dog or cat. Dogs bite, scratch, knock over children etc causing much more harm than a reptile ever would, which may be only a teeny tiny pinprick bite or scuff from a claw. I know media has put a huge damper on reptiles too, "Python loose in X town" for example, when it is just a tiny ball python that poses no threat... these things cause laws to fall in place where as, dogs and cats that run out the door do not even get blinked at. Dogs and cats carry a much higher risk of attack, rabies, etc whereas reptiles do not. It's unfortunate that something so harmless gets picked on for laws when something more popular and "cute", despite posing higher risks does not. These escapes are accidental majority of the time much like mammal escapees. The reptile hobby has a few bad apples, much like any other hobby as well as dog owners (example, dog fighters or neglectful owners), that unfortunately do keep prohibited species. This ultimately happens with any and all pet owners regardless of the species. I do not think this will ever change even if new laws are in place as they never cared to begin with. This law will only affect the true, responsible and respectable keepers which have not even caused the problems.
Canada put a turtle and tortoise ban in place, 30 years ago. However this only made turtles more attractive for smugglers, and now "market" value rise due the sudden rarity of the species. Now, they are smuggled in on the regular unfortunately and sold for high profit. This proving, banning or prohibiting animals does not fix the issue. Really only makes a situation worse.
Another noteworthy fact, 1 in 10 Canadians own a reptile. 40,000 people are injured annually from dogs, 200 are killed by pet horses however only 10 have died from pet reptiles in North America, not just Canada since 1978. It is a very small number comparative to the rest.
I have been in this hobby for 17 years now, keeping and breeding species that really need to be captive bred and established, providing them internationally to the world so they no longer have to be stripped from the wild in other countries. Taking this away, even though I am one person, it is a big impact internationally. Myself as well as my significant other work tirelessly to have safe, legal importation and shipping to responsible owners as a living. I love it and we really impact the hobby to keep positive and responsible keepers afloat. We promote positive change, for the better of everyone. We even work along side Environment Canada (Reptile Express) when they need our help. With a huge list of potential reptiles being banned, we also may disappear and the government will have no one else to turn to for safe, legal shipping. We have done CITES shipping for EC over to the USA, as well as accidental "visitors" ex, frogs from Georgia on a plane, sent back home on behalf of EC. Without companies such as our own, these otherwise "would be" illegal shipments would either make it into the public in Canada or the animals would be needlessly euthanized as there are no other option.
The first, and easiest idea I would like to mention for now... Which also makes the most sense, perhaps is the current Mississauga by-law. The law is written out very well and is probably the best option in my opinion for everyone.
Here is an article worth noting, in which these laws were advised from one of the best in our province.
We have hundreds, if not thousands of people in this province who keep reptiles and amphibians. However, most keepers are already terrified about what may happen, and are to afraid to voice an opinion as they feel at risk of losing pets they dearly love and cherish.
PLEASE Reach out to your local MP's!
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