By Andrew Westoll
As a journalist, my job is to present both sides of an argument. This can be very difficult when the topic is something I have strong opinions about. While writing my recent article about exotic pet ownership for The Globe and Mail, I felt I should muzzle my own feelings about the subject in order to be fair to those who own, and love, their perfectly legal exotic pets.
Yesterday’s tragedy in Campbellton, N.B., in which two young boys were believed to have been killed by an escaped rock python during an innocent sleep-over, has once again thrown my journalistic instincts for a loop.
The attack is so horrifying that it borders on the incomprehensible. Even those who make their living handling dangerous snakes can’t seem to get their heads around it. The facilities manager at one Ontario reptile zoo told the CBC, “It’s strange… it doesn’t make sense to me.” Another snake professional, this time at a reptile store in Hamilton, found the tragedy simply “bizarre.”
If the people who spend their days dealing with exotic snakes can’t understand how this could have happened, how are the rest of us supposed to?
One way is to simply draw a line in the sand, to say all potentially dangerous exotic pets should be banned right now. Another way is to push for increased regulation of exotic animals in the form of mandatory inspections and licensing systems. Finally, there are those who would attack the above ideas as mere political opportunism, the hijacking of a senseless tragedy for the sake of an agenda.
Well, call me an opportunist, but even before the events in Campbellton, and after listening to both sides of the conversation for a long time, I still see no justification whatsoever for allowing people to own dangerous, undomesticated, undocumented animals. More....