Acquiring exotic pets is absolutely ludicrous and should be banned provincially
Dogs, cats, goldfish, turtles and rabbits. What do all these animals have in common? They’re typical household pets. However, in the last few years, animals such as pigs, monkeys and foxes have become additions to suburban households. According to the Globe and Mail, there has been an increase of import of exotic pets in Canada in the last 15 years, particularly with reptiles.
Now, as cute as these animals may look and no matter how much fun you think it might be to have a pet lemur, consider the following: they’re wild animals! Who came up with the idea to domesticate and toilet train a fox? It’s a horrible idea. Just buy a cat and tell your friends you own a tiger.
One could argue: “Well, dogs were essentially wolves that man domesticated, so why can’t I own a fox?” My answer: domestication didn’t just happen overnight. It’s not as if one day a wolf wants to eat you and the next day it’s man’s best friend. This process took thousands of years to become what it is today. According to The Atlantic, humans didn’t even play as much of a role in this evolution as we think, but rather, the wolves themselves changed in body and temperament. This means ancient wolves made some sort of conscious effort in the domestication process. So until monkeys start asking to live in your bedroom, or until foxes jump at the chance to go for a walk on a leash, they should not be kept as pets.
People must also consider the blatant danger of owning such animals. NatGeoWild published an article recounting incidents of injuries by exotic pets towards humans. For example, in 2009, a 21-year-old woman was hospitalized after one of her two “pet” black bears attacked her. In 2012, a python bit a four-year-old as she was “playing” with it. There are countless documented injuries caused by wild animals kept as pets that could have very easily been avoided.
National Geographic’s Dr. K’s Exotic Animal ER is a television series about a veterinary clinic that specializes in exotic animals and pets in the United States. In one episode, a couple walked into the clinic to have their pet lynx examined by the veterinarian. This was absolutely insane to me. Lynxes are predators, yet the owners said it’s like having a big cat at home. No, it’s more like having a lynx at home that can rip your face apart at any time.
In wondering how the laws differed in Canada from the United States, I learned that our laws in Quebec are terrible. According to the regulation respecting animals in captivity, Article 14 states: “Anyone who keeps an animal referred to in Section 13 in captivity may dispose of it by selling it, giving it away or slaughtering it.” Mammals referred to in Section 13 include foxes and minks, meaning that, after you have legally bred foxes, you can dispose of them how you like. Article 15 states no license is required to keep a monkey if it is trained to assist someone with physical disabilities. Although this is legal, it’s disgusting. Rather than a therapy dog, you can legally have a therapy monkey.
To be frank, the fact that there are laws giving human beings the right to own wild animals and specifying how to treat these animals is horrifying. The fact that people choose to own “exotic pets,” which are just wild animals, is dangerous. But what’s even worse is we have laws giving us the right to use and abuse them only to dispose of them how we like. We might as well have no animal ownership laws, because these laws aren’t really helping anyway.
Let’s all keep in mind the irony in that there are very strict laws regarding pit bull ownership, including forcing them to wear muzzles and yet, owning a pet monkey or exotic reptile is fine and within our rights as Canadians. This needs to stop. Stop trying to domesticate wild animals, stop owning them—just let them live in the wild where they belong.