By Wayne Pacelle
Wayne Pacelle is the president and chief executive officer of The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS). This Op-Ed first appeared on the blog A Humane Nation, where it ran before appearing in LiveScience's Expert Voices: Op-Ed & Insights.
For years, The HSUS warned Ohio policy makers about the madness of allowing private citizens to keep dangerous wild animals as pets. They ignored the issue, or what to me is more incriminating, they bowed to the influence and pressure of the rowdy band of exotic animal owners who claimed it was their right to have any animals they wanted.
Pretty much every sane person got clarity on the issue in 2011 after Terry Thompson released nearly 50 large, dangerous, wild animals in Zanesville, just before taking his own life. Law enforcement personnel dramatically hunted the creatures down as dusk enveloped the eastern Ohio town, in an attempt to protect the community from the tigers , grizzly bears and cougars that were on the loose.
The question is, why risk the lives of people and animals just so someone can claim bragging rights by having a big, powerful animal in his control? Hey, I get the human-animal bond as well as anyone, but that can be satisfied with a domesticated dog or cat . Getting your animal fix need not require a chimp or a tiger or a boa constrictor. The risks far exceed the rewards for society. And yes, we are members of a society, with a collective set of rules. It's not a free-for-all, where we do anything we wish, regardless of the consequences.
So this brings me to last Monday's incident, where a 100-pound African rock python escaped into a New Brunswick apartment above a pet store, found its way into a bedroom and killed two little boys by asphyxiating them. More....