Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Outcome of SB 310; "Dangerous Animals and Restricted Snakes" Bill

Tuesday, May 22nd Ohio state legislators convened to decide the fate of "exotic" animals and it passed 87-9.

There were three speakers for the bill and only one speaking against.

Rep. Terry Boose (R) District 58-Norwalk (Opposed);
1) Pointed out that the bill discriminates against the poor

2) Encourages a black market

3) Not enough teeth in the bill to really be effective anyway

Rep. Brian Hill (D) District 94-Zanesville (In Favor);
1) Stated that the bill would include an "Animal Emergency Team"

2) Will promote proper caging requirements

Rep. Tracey Heard (D) District 26-Columbus (In Favor);
1) Stated that she had a pet monkey as a child and supported exempting those from the bill's scrutiny because they "make good pets, and serice animals" (side note: Opinions are like ***holes, everybody has one. So where's the research sources proving monkeys are better and safer pets than snakes???)

2) Stated that the bill "makes provisions" for those who can't afford the various fees and must "relinquish" those animals. Feels they are "reasonable". (side note: How big of her. Is she offering to adopt all these displaced pets, and cover the costs of their care? No detail given on just exactly how much these fees are, and where this money for their future care is supposed to come from. Are the people who can afford those fees supposed to foot the bill for all those people giving their pets up who can't?)

Rep. Andy hompson (R) District 93-Marietta (In Favor);
1) Stated that the "First Responders" for animal emergencies proposed by the bill is an important feature.

Well, I must say that the impression I was left with after watching this session was that the whole hearing was merely a formality.

There are so many constitutional issues here that this is bound to end up at the Supreme Court level. Perhaps animal-lovers have lost this battle, but we will win the war.

History has borne out again and again that prohibition doesn't work; not in a country that was built on acceptance of individual choices. The original settlers left Europe because they didn't want every aspect of their private lives dictated to them by their government and wanted to be free to pursue what made them happy.

Sure, there are instances when government needs to step in and intervene to level the playing field, prevent people from killing each other, or to make sure society has what it needs to serve everyone in it, there are times when that's appropriate, but not in telling people what pets they can keep.

USARK offered reasonable alternatives, and who better to be involved in the writing of standards for and about snakes than people who have been doing it for years? Who better to write the standards for large cats than people who have made a career doing that.

Society recognizes this in fields such as medicine in which boards are formed to set the standards for their peers, and in fields like medicine government hesitates to let state or Federal legislators decide what is best for doctors and their patients. The reason? Because they recognize that legislators (and along with them, other special interest groups) lack the knowledge, experience, and expertise to dictate "best practices" to doctors, tell them how they should do their surgeries, what drugs to prescribe and not prescribe, and what tests they can and can't do on their patients. (Private insurance companies try to do that, but at least the government in this instance, takes a pretty much hands-off approach).

Life is full of both risks and benefits. There are people who have died from working with animals, but in the grand scheme of things the number of people who have died does not reach the level that requires government intervention. Overall the joys of working with animals far outweighs the risks, and as we become more familiar with a whole range of different species we come to understand them better (just as different races and nationalities of people get better at relating as they are allowed to communicate and meet in the middle). All of these individual differences take time to work out.

Just like people who speak different languages, animals have their own "languages"; different ways of communicating, and different ways of interpreting the actions of species outside their own.

If people are restricted from keeping certain species they will never have the opportunity to get to know them at close range and to work through those language and cultural barriers. That in itself will keep whatever dangers there are ever-present and unpredictable. Wouldn't it be better to be able to predict and prevent those incidents and move past them than to merely table the interactions that will reduce those risks?

Just as in any relationship, humans and other animals need to meet in the middle and learn from one another so that they can successfully achieve a relationship that is mutually beneficial to both species. Money should have no place in such relationships. It is a matter to be worked out between each particular animal and each particular human.

I know that with each dog I have had the relationship and what defines it is unique. We learn along the way how to treat each other, we have special routines between us that are specific to just that relationship, certain special ways of relating that don't necessarily apply to all dogs and all humans. Relationships, whether they are human to human or human to other animal involve compromise, respect, trust, regard for the other, kindness, and most of all, the willingness to work on that relationship to make it better and richer with time. Those objectives cannot be achieved by distance. Those principles are universal and can be applied across the board, regardless of species.

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