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Petitioning Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Rt Hon Elizabeth Truss and 12 others

Hands off our hobby. Let's tell UK political parties exotic animals make good pets too

Keepers of exotic pets are coming under increasing attack from a small minority of very vocal animal campaign groups These campaigns, always backed by pseudo science and guestamation are calling for draconian controls and in many cases a total ban on the keeping of what they often refer to as "exotic wildlife". Remember, the term exotic covers all of the reptile, amphibian, bird, small mammal, fish and invertebrate species kept as pets by hobbyists and any controls or bans would cover almost all of these species.

Thanks to one such group, the Scottish Government has already announced a review into the exotic pet trade which could stop people being able to keep exotic pets in Scotland.

 

These campaigns want to stop the import, keeping, breeding, and selling of all exotic pets, both captive bred and wild caught, here in the UK. More recently campaigners have begun a push calling for Governments to set up positive lists of species to limit the variety of species available to the hobbyist. Such controls would effect nearly all of the exotic species kept by hobbyists in the UK. If successful these lists would be disastrous, quickly bringing an end to many sections of the hobby leaving just a small number of the more common species and their associated hobbyists still hanging on. This small number of species would not be enough to keep the current industry going. Animals probably account for just under half of sales, without them there's no need for vivarium’s, cages, aviaries, tanks, lighting, heating, food, medicines, supplements etc. No pets, no trade. This would decimate the exotic pet hobby and trade in the UK causing distress to the millions of hobbyist involved and the thousands of people employed by the accompanying industry as well as harm to the UK economy.

 

There is nothing new about keeping exotic pets. Reptiles as one example, have been kept as pets, or 'companion animals' since the thirteenth century and in recent years the hobby has grown to the point where the number of pet reptiles kept outnumber many, if not all, of the more traditional pet types. According to a report by the Companion Animal Welfare Committee (CAWC), the ease of meeting all the requirements – space, dietary, social, thermal, and so on – of a small, hardy, reptile is now easily achievable with modern technology for many people. This makes them one of the first choices of pet for many modern households.

 

Latest figures from the Pro Pets Group estimate that 13 million (46%) households in the UK have a pet. The pet industry helps to support the UK economy by employing an estimated 50,000 people who supply pets, their foods and their enclosures to the hobbyists who spend an estimated six billion pounds on their pets every year and generates taxes in excess of 2.2 billion pounds a year. And over half of those pets are termed exotic.

The exotic pet hobby also brings important environmental and economic benefits to countries around the world where properly controlled, sustainable utilisation of local wildlife both as wild harvest and through captive farming can save important habitats that may otherwise be given over to land clearance such as logging followed by cash crops like palm oil and soya beans.


In the run up to the General Election in May 2015 I want all the political parties to recognise that the keeping of exotic pets is just as acceptable as having a dog or cat. I am therefore writing to voice my opposition to any UK government attempting to support any future attacks on my hobby and I would like to have your assurance that you would work to oppose any future attempts to place unwelcome unscientific legislation or bans on exotic pets, their keepers and the associated pet trade (like the review recently announced in Scotland) and finally I ask that you show your support to the Hands Off Our Hobby campaign.

 

This petition was delivered to:
  • Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Rt Hon Elizabeth Truss
  • Shadow Social & Democrat Labour Party Spokesperson (Environment, Food & Rural Affairs) Margaret Ritc
  • Shadow Democrat Unionist Party Spokesperson (Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
  • SNP Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs and the Environment, Richard Lochhead
  • Head of UKIP Policy Tim Aker
  • Plaid Cymru Spokesperson (Environment, Food and Rural Affairs) Elfyn Llwyd Shadow
  • SNP Deputy Leader Stewart Hosie
  • Liberal Democrat spokesperson for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Roger Williams
  • Labour Shadow Minister (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs) Angela Smith
  • Labour Shadow spokesman for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs) Rt Hon Lord Knight of Weymouth
  • Labour Shadow Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Maria Eagle
  • Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs The Lord de Mauley
  • Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs) George Eustice

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