Tuesday, March 31, 2009

State law that bans wildlife as pets finds support

State law that bans wildlife as pets finds support

Wildlife Images director Dave Siddon could tell countless horror stories of wild animals, from lions to bears, adopted as cute babies then cast away after gaining several hundred pounds.

"We probably are approached by a half-dozen people a month that have wild animals as a pet and they need a home for it," said Siddon, whose father founded the animal rehabilitation center near Merlin.

"Everything from bears to chinchillas and everything in between."

Siddon applauded an Oregon Senate bill passed Tuesday that, if approved by the House, would essentially ban exotic, nonindigenous animals from being kept as pets in the state.

First introduced five years ago by Democratic Sen. Mark Hass of Beaverton when a pet alligator escaped its enclosure and wound up sick and dying in a culvert, the law could take affect as early as May.

Siddon said the proposed law is "something that's been a long time coming" and could lead to stronger laws for other types of wild animals.

The proposed law, which would not affect wildlife rehabilitators, wildlife sanctuaries, zoos, circuses or research and educational facilities, would not force people to give up existing pets but would prevent people from obtaining new ones. In addition, animals indigenous to Oregon, such as bobcats and black bears, would continue to be managed by the Department of Fish and Wildlife and not be subject to the new law.

Dr. Alan Kadish, an advocate of exotic pet ownership and a former owner of various types of wild cats, voiced frustration that responsible pet owners would no longer able to obtain certain types of animals.

"The nebulous nature of this law is ludicrous," said Kadish. "No, the majority of people should not, without proper training, own exotic pets that potentially have the connotation of being dangerous, but we have a fiscal crisis and this is your big honkin' deal?"

Kadish warned that, like a surge in gun buying "before Obama took office," irresponsible pet owners would "rush out and get animals" before the new law took effect.

Medford resident Robin Hall, who owns a pet bobcat, said she supports the law for non-indigenous animals, as well as tighter restrictions, through the Fish and Wildlife Department, for cats like hers.

"Whether they're from Oregon or not, I definitely think most pet owners are not qualified to take care of wild animals," said Hall, who adopted "Freckles" three years ago after a family had left her in a dog kennel for the first nine months of her life, unsure how to manage her care, resulting in damage to the cat's legs.

Hall says the cat "pees everywhere" and requires special care, including an expensive enclosure built in her backyard.

"She works out good with us but I wouldn't go trying to find one if anything happened to her," Hall said.

"I pay my $2.50 a year for her permit and they never check on her, but I think if somebody were to take one on, they should have classes or be the right type of person. Wild animals are meant to be wild for a reason."

A handful of exotics would be treated differently under the proposed law. Pet wolves, for example, would no longer be managed by the United States Department of Agriculture, while existing pet alligators, sold in local stores, would require visual inspection and a permit under the new law until the animal passes away.

Alan Schmaltz, owner of Nui Kai pet shop in Medford, said while demand is increasing for pet alligators, he supported a law that would encourage human safety and animal welfare.

"We do sell baby alligators from time to time, during certain seasons when they're available. We just have so much demand for them as pets, but I could see where they might be dangerous and kids could get bitten,"

Schmaltz said.

"It seems like a lot of irresponsible people buy them as pets — the crocodiles and alligators. It wouldn't hurt my feelings if they put a law into place. My wife doesn't want me to carry them at all."

Phoenix resident Jennifer Donnelson, who has a pair of baby alligators, said she was undecided about whether she would "bother getting a permit" if the new law is passed.

Other exotic pet owners in the Rogue Valley, including a man with several foxes, declined to be interviewed for this story.

Don Hansen, state veterinarian for the Oregon Department of Agriculture, said the new law would bring changes in paperwork and manpower.

"For us this is a big deal. These permits would require us to physically inspect the property and the facility and to make sure the person is capable of raising and taking care of the exotic animal they are asking for, which could have some pretty serious consequences," Hansen said.

"It's unknown how it will be managed, but we'll all find out together."

Siddon said he and his staff have spent years caring for animals, mostly indigenous to Oregon but exotic nonetheless, that could not survive in the wild and will live their lives in captivity.

"I can't keep up with how many times we've been called where somebody has a neighbor with a tiger behind a chicken-wire enclosure," he said.

"And you know it's just a matter of time before something spins out of control and somebody is badly injured.

"Typically, laws are designed for the lowest common denominator," Siddon added. "They make laws for bad people that affect good people, too."

Buffy Pollock is a freelance writer living in Medford. E-mail her at buffypollock@juno.com.

http://www.mailtribune.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20090329/NEWS/903290336

--
For the cats,

Carole Baskin, CEO of Big Cat Rescue
an Educational Sanctuary home
to more than 100 big cats
12802 Easy Street Tampa, FL  33625
813.493.4564 fax 885.4457

http://www.BigCatRescue.org
SaveTheBigCats@gmail.com

Sign our petition to protect tigers from being farmed here:

http://capwiz.com/bigcatrescue/issues/alert/?alertid=9952801&type=CU

This message contains information from Big Cat Rescue that may be
confidential or privileged. The information contained herein is intended
only for the eyes of the individual or entity named above.  You are hereby
notified that any dissemination, distribution, disclosure, and/or copying of
the information contained in this communication is strictly prohibited. The
recipient should check this e-mail and any attachments for the presence of
viruses. Big Cat Rescue accepts no liability for any damage or loss caused
by any virus transmitted by this e-mail.




Friday, March 27, 2009

Chimp attack wins attention of lawmakers

From ANIMAL PEOPLE, April 2009:


Chimp attack wins attention of lawmakers

       WASHINGTON D.C--Boosted by the February 16,  2009 rampage of a longtime pet chimpanzee named Travis in Stamford,  Connecticut, the Captive Primate Safety Act on February 24,  2009 cleared the U.S. House of Representatives by a vote of 323-95 and returned to the U.S. Senate.
       "The bill will ban interstate commerce in apes,  monkeys, lemurs,  marmosets,  and other nonhuman primates for the pet trade," explained Humane Society Legislative Fund director Mike Markarian. "A number of states and communities already prohibit private ownership of primates as pets,  but the patchwork of local laws and the interstate nature of the primate pet trade call out for a federal response.  The Senate bill passed the Environment and Public Works Committee in July 2008,"  Markarian continued,  "and has been awaiting further action.  Identical legislation  passed the Senate unanimously in 2006."   Charla Nash,  55,  "lost her hands, nose, lips and eyelids and may be blind and suffering brain damage" after Travis attacked her at the home of her friend Sandra Herold,  70," reported Associated Press writer Dave Collins on March 17,  2009. Receiving treatment at the Cleveland Clinic in Ohio,  where the first U.S. face transplant surgery was performed,  Nash remained in critical condition.
       Her family has sued Herold,  seeking $50 million in damages.
       Police shot Travis after he attacked a police car,  trying to get at the officers inside.
       Associated Press writer Susan Haigh revealed on March 20, 2009 that a Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection biologist,  whom Haigh did not name,  warned superiors on October 28, 2008 that Herold was keeping Travis in violation of state law.  The biologist concluded "I would like to express the urgency of addressing this issue."
       Travis had previously escaped and run loose through Stamford in 2003.
       However,  the DEP "chose not to enter into what we believed would be a battle to take custody of a local celebrity,"  DEP commissioner Gina McCarthy responded in a written statement to Connecticut legislators.
       The existing Connecticut law forbids keeping a nonhuman primate who will weigh more than 50 pounds at maturity.  The Connecticut general assembly environment committee on March 20,  2009 voted 28-2 to prohibit outright keeping chimpanzees and other potentially dangerous species.
       With the injuries to Nash in the news,  the board of health in Carbon County,  Montana on March 12,  2009 voted unanimously to require chimp keeper Jeanne Rizzotto to "quarantine her two chimps, provide current medical records,  and update their vaccinations.  The board stopped short of ordering Rizzotto to send the primates to a chimp sanctuary,"  reported Linda Halsted Acharya of the Billings Gazette.
       One of Rizzotto's chimps in November 2008 bit a woman who was visiting a neighbor.  Rizzotto claimed someone had tampered with the locks on the chimp's cage.
       The chimps are not Rizzotto's only legal issue.  On March 4, 2009 she accepted a deferred sentence on a felony charge of writing a bad check for $155,000,  contingent on paying a fine of $1,000 and making restitution for the full amount,  Halsted Acharya said.
       Nor are nonhuman primates the only kind of dangerous exotic pet that lawmakers and law enforcement are now wrestling with,  after more than 30 years of warnings from the humane community about the growth of the exotic pet industry.
       For example,  while the Connecticut general assembly considered banning dangerous pets,  a small alligator was captured on March 23,  2009 in South Windsor,  just north of the state capitol in Hartford.
       "The Captive Primate Safety Act is similar to a bill that Congress passed unanimously in 2003,"  Markarian noted,  "prohibiting interstate commerce in tigers, lions,  and other dangerous big cats for the pet trade."
       The Captive Wildlife Protection Act,  also called the Shambala Act after actress Tippi Hedren's Shambala sanctuary near Los Angeles,  appears to have reduced the big cat traffic,  but animals acquired before the law was passed still turn up in bad situations, sanctuaries struggle to accommodate them,  and law enforcement continues to have difficulty preventing recidivism by big cat keepers who are repeatedly cited for violations.
       The Detroit Zoo on March 22,  2009 announced that three African lions kept since 1995 by Jeffrey Harsh of Oakley,  Kansas, had cleared health checks,  and would be coming to the zoo within a few more days.  Two tigers kept by Harsh at a facility he called the Prairie Cat Animal Refuge will be sent to the Carnivore Preservation Trust in North Carolina.  Harsh is divesting of the big cats to avoid charges in connection with injuries suffered by one of his employees. "Bradley Jeff Buchanan,  who was apparently under the influence according to law enforcement authorities,  for some reason stuck his arm in one of the cages and was bitten,"  summarized Mike Corn of the Hays Daily News.
       Also on March 22,  2009 the USDA confiscated two tigers and a lion,  reportedly not properly fed in weeks,  from North Texas wildlife exhibitor Marcus Cook. The animals were taken to the In-Sync Exotic Wildlife Rescue and Education Center in Wylie.
       "The sudden addition is a strain for the Wylie center,  which is already reeling from slumping donations,"  reported Jonathan Betz of WFAA-TV.
       Cook,  a former police officer,  quit that job in 1997 "because of concerns about his credibility,"  the Dallas Morning News reported.  Cook subsequently ran into trouble in connection with exotic cat exhibition.  ANIMAL PEOPLE detailed his history in 2002. Animals in his custody later injured people on at least three occasions.  In 2007 four white tiger cubs died in his care.  Texas and Florida have charged Cook with animal handling offenses,  and he has also been investigated at least twice in Minnesota.





--
Merritt Clifton
Editor,  ANIMAL PEOPLE
P.O. Box 960
Clinton,  WA  98236

Telephone:  360-579-2505
Fax:  360-579-2575
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[ANIMAL PEOPLE is the leading independent newspaper providing original investigative coverage of animal protection worldwide, founded in 1992.  Our readership of 30,000-plus includes the decision-makers at more than 10,000 animal protection organizations. We have no alignment or affiliation with any other entity.  $24/year; for free sample,  send address.]

The Primate Safety Act is an important law to get passed for the big cats too.  It fixes some former issues with the Captive Wild Animal Safety Act and makes them enforceable in prohibiting the sale and transport of big cats across state lines.

--
For the cats,

Carole Baskin, CEO of Big Cat Rescue
an Educational Sanctuary home
to more than 100 big cats
12802 Easy Street Tampa, FL  33625
813.493.4564 fax 885.4457

http://www.BigCatRescue.org
SaveTheBigCats@gmail.com

Sign our petition to protect tigers from being farmed here:

http://capwiz.com/bigcatrescue/issues/alert/?alertid=9952801&type=CU

This message contains information from Big Cat Rescue that may be
confidential or privileged. The information contained herein is intended
only for the eyes of the individual or entity named above.  You are hereby
notified that any dissemination, distribution, disclosure, and/or copying of
the information contained in this communication is strictly prohibited. The
recipient should check this e-mail and any attachments for the presence of
viruses. Big Cat Rescue accepts no liability for any damage or loss caused
by any virus transmitted by this e-mail.




Saturday, March 21, 2009

A tale of two (really big) kitties

A tale of two (really big) kitties

March 18, 2009
By Adrian Hirsch

The Iberville Parish Council again considered Tuesday exempting the Tiger Truckstop in Grosse Tete from a 1993 ordinance limiting private ownership of dangerous animals. Having raised and exhibited tigers for 20 years, truckstop owner Michael S. Sandlin sought the exemption to comply with state regulations.

During its February meeting, the majority of council members approved the exemption, which was then vetoed by Parish President J. Mitchell Ourso Jr. In the past month, council attorney Barry Marionneaux and truckstop attorney Joseph B. Dupont Jr. collaborated on a revised ordinance, which the council approved. The new ordinance exempts Michael Sandlin from the 1993 legislation but requires specific improvements to enhance the tiger's environment, care and the community's safety. Receiving the council's exemption is the first step in meeting the state's criteria to keep Tony, the tiger Sandlin has owned since 2000.

Before the Legislature passed Act 715 in 2006, Louisianans could import, possess, sell and exhibit lions, tigers, bears and other large exotics with little oversight from the state. The ownership, purchase, importation or sale of exotics is now illegal. However, a provision allows Sandlin and others whose ownership of exotics pre-dates the legislation to keep those animals by adhering to the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries' stringent regulations designed to protect public safety and the animals' welfare and support conservation.

"Louisiana had a lot of foresight and broadly wrote the 2006 legislation to exempt accredited zoos, research centers and universities but not other facilities," explains Beth Preiss, the Human Society of the United States (HSUS) director of Exotic Pets Campaign.

The council's proceedings attracted both national attention and animal activists, who argue the truckstop's inhumane conditions warrant Tony's release to a sanctuary.

The Iberville council's controversy has hardly been the only exotic animal story making the evening news: A "pet" serval (an African wildcat) on the loose terrorized Uptown New Orleans. A 200-pound Connecticut chimpanzee mauled one of his owner's invited guests. A Barbary lion at a private refuge attacked a Kansas man. And, in their farewell performance two weeks ago, Las Vegas illusionists Siegfried and Roy again shared the stage with Montecore. Seven years earlier, the same captive-born, hand-raised white tiger attacked and nearly killed his long-time trainer Roy Horn on stage.

"Although it is still legal to own a tiger in Missouri, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Ohio, Nevada and West Virginia," Preiss says, "tigers shouldn't be kept as pets. There's a danger to the public and the animal, and never having an incident is no guarantee that something won't happen in the future. There have been nine people killed nationwide since 2001." All of which proves captive breeding cannot eliminate millions of years of evolution and instincts honed to promote survival of the fittest in the wild. Furthermore, as recent attacks by smaller, more domesticated pets -- pitbulls -- have demonstrated: Just because it is legal for anyone to possess a particular animal, private ownership is not always in the best interest of the community.

Still, HSUS calculates the number of captive tigers living in the United States is roughly equivalent to those living in the wild. The ease of acquiring a tiger -- especially on the Internet -- belies the difficulties of living with an animal who's genetically programmed to range more than 100 miles a day, swim rivers and bring down prey twice their size. So, even captive tigers are better suited to life in a natural setting at an accredited sanctuary with room to roam rather than confined behind the metal bars of a barren concrete and grass bunker inhaling car and diesel exhaust.

So, why would the council not enforce an ordinance it adopted to protected the public? Sales tax revenue? Jobs?

To be sure, the truckstop is a major employer in the area. And despite its country store, café, 24-hour tire service, souvenirs and 15 video poker machines and repair shop, Tony undoubtedly remains its main attraction.

On Feb. 8, trucker Carrie Chambers of Georgia shared her opinions on savetony.com: "There is nothing wrong with Tiger Truck Stop keeping the tiger. Me and my boyfriend were on the road in a big truck. That tiger was the only reason why we stopped at this truck stop. I wanted to see him. I have never seen a tiger before. I have not been out of the state of Georgia until my boyfriend. So let other people who are like me have the woderful [sic] chance that I have had by seeing the tiger. I would love to see him again when I go back on the road."

Not that the affiliation between tigers and gasoline has always been a bad one. Esso, the forerunner to Exxon, ran the popular "Put a Tiger in Your Tank" advertising campaign from 1945 until the early 1970s. However, rather than exploiting the big cats, big oil took action to prevent their extinction with its Save the Tiger Fund. Since 1995, ExxonMobil has contributed more than $15 million to protect and restore wild tiger habitats in Asia.

Closer to home, Sandlin seems to be banking on a big victory. Despite a number of citations from the U.S. Department of Agriculture over the years, his Web site solicits donations for new tiger habitat and a new tiger -- young female to add to the exhibit.

Regardless of the Grosse Tete tiger's fate, privately owned exotic and dangerous animals are on their way to becoming extinct in Louisiana. Tony is the last cat of his kind. According to Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries' Press Secretary Bo Boehringer, all other big cat owners voluntarily relocated their animals after the passage of the legislation.

If one day there is no longer a truckstop tiger in the shadow of the interstate, travelers will still be able to get their fill of big cats near Baton Rouge. Only 20 miles away, Mike the Tiger lounges in a $3 million dollar, 15,000-square-foot, Italianate enclosure complete with live oaks, waterfall and a veterinarian onsite. And soon, as many as eight tigers will join Siamang gibbons (big, black, howling monkeys) and Asian waterfowl in the Baton Rouge Zoo's two-acre Realm of the Tiger exhibit. In south central Louisiana, there will always be a Bengal by you.

http://www.225batonrouge.com/blogs/unleashed/2009/mar/18/unleashed31809/

--
For the cats,

Carole Baskin, CEO of Big Cat Rescue
an Educational Sanctuary home
to more than 100 big cats
12802 Easy Street Tampa, FL  33625
813.493.4564 fax 885.4457

http://www.BigCatRescue.org
SaveTheBigCats@gmail.com

Sign our petition to protect tigers from being farmed here:

http://capwiz.com/bigcatrescue/issues/alert/?alertid=9952801&type=CU

This message contains information from Big Cat Rescue that may be
confidential or privileged. The information contained herein is intended
only for the eyes of the individual or entity named above.  You are hereby
notified that any dissemination, distribution, disclosure, and/or copying of
the information contained in this communication is strictly prohibited. The
recipient should check this e-mail and any attachments for the presence of
viruses. Big Cat Rescue accepts no liability for any damage or loss caused
by any virus transmitted by this e-mail.




Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Cities no place for call of wild:

Cities no place for call of wild:

Exotic animals target of probes, as are "vicious" dogs

by Barrie Barber and Gus Burns | The Saginaw News
 Sunday March 15, 2009, 1:00 AM

Saginaw News FileIn this 1997 file photo, Larry Sparks with new 3-month-old
lion cub, Thunder.

Saginaw Township, the suburb of cul-de-sacs and shopping outlets, might ban
exotic animals even though officials aren't aware of any slithering or
lurking behind closed doors or in backyards.

It's the unknown that makes leaders cautious.

"There are serious issues about keeping exotic animals," said Bridget Smith,
township planner.

"If you look across the country, there are people who keep animals like
panthers and chimpanzees."

Other communities have put up zoning walls against the call of the wild. They
have rules that ban alligators, bears, lemurs, wild birds, exotic predator
cats, monkeys, deer and other species.

Last month, the U.S. House passed the Captive Primate Safety Act that would
ban the interstate sale of primates as pets. The action followed a 200-pound
chimpanzee's brutal attack on 55-year-old Charla Nash on Feb. 16 in Stamford,
Conn. that left her clinging to life with disfiguring injuries.

Closer to home, in Carrollton Township, an African palm civet, a catlike
tropical forest-dwelling carnivore indigenous to Africa and Asia, mothers her
newborn litter near a couch at Jeremiah D. Tietz's home.

Living with exotic animals is nothing new to Tietz; he's been around them
since childhood. In addition to six civets, he keeps anteaters, monkeys and
sloths, which he's done for decades without incident.

Alex Slitz | The Saginaw NewsSaginaw Animal Control officers lead a pit bull
away from a scene in Buena Vista Township where a pack of dogs attacked and
injured two people.

Saginaw County has no law banning exotic animals, said Valerie McCullough,
director of the County Animal Care Center.

State law bans large carnivores as pets such as lions, cheetahs and tigers
and bears, said Dr. Michele Finateri, a veterinarian and state Department of
Agriculture program manager for licensing and rabies.

A separate act bans wolf dogs, or a dog cross-bred with a wolf. The exception
is the owner must have owned the animal and have a permit from a police
agency before the law went into effect in 2000.

Prospective pet owners call the veterinarian to ask what they can own
legally, Finateri said.

Alligators and monkeys remain unencumbered under Department of Agriculture
rules, unless local communities make their own, she said.

While Saginaw Township Police Chief Donald F. Pussehl Jr. hasn't encountered
any wild animals in ranch houses, the former Saginaw police chief said a man
once kept a 350-pound pet lion in the city limits.

Larry R. Sparks, known in some circles as "The Lion Man," at one time owned
two lions: Thunder, a cub that died in 1998, and a fully grown lioness, Sheba,
which died in 1997. City officials had to order Sparks to remove her rotting
carcass from his backyard.

"I'm not in favor of any more laws," said Tietz, who owns Animal Kingdom Pet
Store at 933 Gratiot in Saginaw. "Most people that have them (exotic pets)
are responsible with them.

Accidents do happen sometimes, but they just get publicized more because
they're something rare ...

"It's kind of a fluke thing; there are more pit bull attacks in Saginaw than
there is monkey attacks in the whole country."

A trio of the powerful canines attacked Bridgetta Hadley, 42, and neighbor
Duane VanLanHam, 48, of Buena Vista Township on March 5, prompting Buena Vista
Police Chief Brian Booker to say his officers will vigorously enforce the
community's vicious animal ordinance.

Saginaw has no rules regarding vicious dogs. Saginaw Township has vicious dog
rules, Pussehl said.

Canines on the roam are a common countywide complaint.

"We get a lot of complaints as far as dogs running at large," McCullough
said. "A lot of them are pit bulls."

http://www.mlive.com/news/saginaw/index.ssf/2009/03/cities_no_place_for_call_of\
_wi.html


--
For the cats,

Carole Baskin, CEO of Big Cat Rescue
an Educational Sanctuary home
to more than 100 big cats
12802 Easy Street Tampa, FL  33625
813.493.4564 fax 885.4457

http://www.BigCatRescue.org
SaveTheBigCats@gmail.com

Sign our petition to protect tigers from being farmed here:

http://capwiz.com/bigcatrescue/issues/alert/?alertid=9952801&type=CU

This message contains information from Big Cat Rescue that may be
confidential or privileged. The information contained herein is intended
only for the eyes of the individual or entity named above.  You are hereby
notified that any dissemination, distribution, disclosure, and/or copying of
the information contained in this communication is strictly prohibited. The
recipient should check this e-mail and any attachments for the presence of
viruses. Big Cat Rescue accepts no liability for any damage or loss caused
by any virus transmitted by this e-mail.




B.C. bans private ownership of exotic pets like tigers, pythons, alligators

1 hour ago

VANCOUVER, B.C. — The tragic death two years ago of a woman killed by a caged tiger as children looked on helped spur the British Columbia government to implement new rules to ban dangerous pets that could harm the public, says Environment Minister Barry Penner.

Penner said Tuesday that the new Controlled Alien Species Regulation, which came into effect this week, identifies 1,256 species that pose a serious threat to public safety.

The list includes black panthers, lions, tigers, boa constrictors, pythons, some poisonous frogs, monkeys, chimpanzees and caimans.

"We are determined to do something to improve public safety while also protecting these species from improperly being brought into British Columbia," said Penner.

He recounted the horrific incident in 2007 in Bridge Lake, B.C., when Tanya Dumstrey-Soos, 32, was clawed by a Siberian tiger owned by her boyfriend and bled to death.

"Despite that animal being inside a cage it was able to get its claws get through the cage and sever an artery in the back of her leg," he said.

"Tragically her death took place in the full view of her children."

He called her death "needless and unnecessary" and suggested it was the impetus "for the need to take steps in British Columbia."

The new regulations mean pet owners can no longer own several types of foreign mammals, amphibians or reptiles unless the animal was in B.C. prior to March 16 of this year.

People who already own a foreign pet who came into the province before that date may be able to keep the animal, if they are granted a permit from the Environment Ministry. Owners are also prohibited from breeding or releasing the animals.

Penner made the announcement at the Vancouver Aquarium, to a backdrop of several of the newly regulated species.

The minister and a representative from the B.C. Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals said there are many hundreds of people in B.C. who are in possession of exotic pets.

"We know that an increasing number of individuals are choosing to obtain these types of animals and keep them as pets or as attractions in communities around the province," Penner told reporters.

Craig Daniel, head of the provincial SPCA, said the organization's cruelty investigators are too often called upon "to investigate private individuals who own dangerous wildlife and are unable to meet the needs of these unique animals."

They not only put public safety at risk, but also the safety of the SPCA staff, he said.

Many exotic pet owners are also ill-equipped to own such animals.

"Owners of exotic animals often do not know how to meet the physical and psychological needs of these animals," Daniel said.

"The only effective way to prevent this abuse and neglect is through the introduction of regulations."

Accredited zoos and research or educational institutions can continue breeding the regulated animals but must apply for a permit for each animal beginning in November.

The film industry will also be required to get a permit for temporarily bringing controlled animals into B.C. and must remove the animals from the province when the film shoot has been completed.

http://www.google.com/hostednews/canadianpress/article/ALeqM5gqsCUwR1xGMCge1JwpF0mMq7J1yw

---------

Learn more about big cats and Big Cat Rescue at http://www.bigcatrescue.org

700 word response in Pahrump Valley Times

Upon further reflection, the editor, Mark Smith said if I could cut it down to 700 words, he would run it, so this is what I sent and we will see if he does:

Thanks again Mark.  696 words (that was hard for a long winded person like me to do):

The term "responsible exotic animal owner" is an oxymoron.  Responsible people do not endanger their communities while forcing wild animals to suffer lives of deprivation and boredom for their own amusement.  There have been 584 incidents in the U.S. involving captive exotic cats since 1990. These incidents have resulted in the deaths of 21 humans, 16 adults and 5 children, the additional mauling of 193 more adults and children, 170 escapes, the killing of 93 big cats, and 122 confiscations. These figures only represent the headlines that Big Cat Rescue has been able to track. Because there is no reporting agency that keeps such records the actual numbers are certainly much higher.

The Journal of Internal Medicine in 2006 estimated that 50 million people worldwide have been infected with zoonotic diseases since 2000 and as many as 78,000 have died. Zoonotic diseases are those that jump from animals to humans.

By the early 1990's science was beginning to discover the extent to which animals exhibited intelligence and emotion. Anyone who has ever had a pet cat or dog could tell you that they are intelligent and that they feel loneliness, anger, resentment, embarrassment, joy and a host of emotions, but it took science hundreds of years to catch up. Keeping wild animals captive began to be considered cruel and self serving as people became aware of the fact that the tiger in the cage could experience the pain of being held against his will.

It became fashionable then for exotic pet owners to call themselves "educators" but if you are standing there petting a tiger or with a cougar on a leash, no one is hearing the message. They are just thinking how cool it would be if they could pet a tiger or have a cougar on a leash.

The exotic animal "rescuers" are often the most vocal in opposition to ending the exotic pet trade. They rant incessantly about how greater restrictions on wildlife trafficking will mean that they have to euthanize all of their animals when that has never been true. Where laws have passed in the US banning the trade in wild animals there have always been grandfather clauses that allow the private owners to keep their animals until they die and there have always been exceptions made to organizations, such as accredited zoos and sanctuaries, but the ones screaming the loudest have no interest in meeting a higher standard. They use the opportunity as a platform for disseminating false information and blaming people who truly care about animals for all of their woes.

We are a generation who was raised with zoos and circuses. When we see that cute baby animal being cuddled on some talk show we choose to NOT think about where the animal's mother is, or how it came to be that he was taken from her to be used this way. When we pay to see a film about tiger brothers, even when we know that more than 30 tigers were used in the film, we choose to NOT think about where those animal will be a year from now.

If we acknowledge great suffering and choose to look the other way, how can we reconcile our conscience? When the answers are so easy and cost us little more than a few letters and phone calls to our legislators, and yet we are unwilling to do even that small thing to alleviate the suffering of tens of thousands of wild animals who are languishing in cages, possessed by a class of people who would be criminals if they treated people the way they treat their "beloved pets" how can we feel good about ourselves? Sometimes the truth hurts, but no one suffers more than the exotic animals when the only thing they have; their desire to live free is taken from them.

I believe that we are all on a path to our higher self and that even the worst of the abusers will one day look inside and redirect their actions. Until that time comes the words of Martin Luther King, Jr. still ring true, "Legislation cannot change the heart, but it can restrain the heartless."

Carole Baskin, CEO of Big Cat Rescue
an Educational Sanctuary home
to more than 100 big cats
12802 Easy Street Tampa, FL  33625
813.493.4564 fax 885.4457

http://www.BigCatRescue.org
SaveTheBigCats@gmail.com


--
For the cats,

Carole Baskin, CEO of Big Cat Rescue
an Educational Sanctuary home
to more than 100 big cats
12802 Easy Street Tampa, FL  33625
813.493.4564 fax 885.4457

http://www.BigCatRescue.org
SaveTheBigCats@gmail.com

Sign our petition to protect tigers from being farmed here:

http://capwiz.com/bigcatrescue/issues/alert/?alertid=9952801&type=CU

This message contains information from Big Cat Rescue that may be
confidential or privileged. The information contained herein is intended
only for the eyes of the individual or entity named above.  You are hereby
notified that any dissemination, distribution, disclosure, and/or copying of
the information contained in this communication is strictly prohibited. The
recipient should check this e-mail and any attachments for the presence of
viruses. Big Cat Rescue accepts no liability for any damage or loss caused
by any virus transmitted by this e-mail.




Big Cat Rescue on Front Page of Tampa Tribune Today

Are You Living Next To An Exotic Animal?

Photo from Carole Baskin

Tampa's Big Cat Rescue is among the 400 Florida locations where people keep animals requiring a license.

Published: March 17, 2009

Updated: 05:00 am

Related Links

TAMPA - Susan Williams lives among cattle ranches and a growing number of new homes.

So she was more than a little surprised a couple years ago when rumors circulated that her neighbor had a tiger and a grizzly bear on his Okeechobee property.

Williams' curiosity led her to call the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. Sure enough, the neighbor had permits for a tiger, a grizzly and four other bears.

"I was astounded," Williams said. "I couldn't believe he didn't have to tell us that these animals were out there."

The wildlife commission is tweaking its requirements for people who own exotic animals, and Williams is among a group pushing for neighborhood notification when people have exotic and dangerous species.

Many of the most dangerous animals in Florida aren't in zoos or sanctuaries. They are in people's houses, at fledgling private animal attractions or in once-rural settings now surrounded by subdivisions.

The risks of living next to dangerous species have been on people's minds since a pet chimpanzee in Connecticut attacked a 55-year-old woman on Feb. 16. Closer to home, former Lowry Park Zoo President Lex Salisbury made nationwide news in April when 15 patas monkeys escaped from the exotic animal park he is building north of Lakeland.

More than 400 Florida businesses and individuals have Class I or Class II permits required for the most wild and lethal species. These permit holders can have animals including lions and elephants, alligators and monkeys. The Tampa Bay area is home to more than 30 licenses, including Lowry Park Zoo, Big Cat Rescue and a 7-acre refuge where a Tampa woman has a cougar and a leopard.

Three years of public hearings over the rule changes fueled tension between some animal owners who wish to keep their collections private and neighbors fearful of dangerous species living so close to residential areas.

Some of the 14 proposed changes are less controversial, such as changing the American alligator to a Class II animal.

For now, at least, Williams' neighborhood notification is not among the proposed changes.

Wildlife officials decided notification wouldn't do much good because neighborhood objections aren't grounds for denying a permit, said Capt. Linda Harrison, a commission spokeswoman.

Instead, the commission focused on setting strict criteria for the most dangerous species, such as requiring a minimum of 5 acres, property that allows commercial uses, and a host of fencing and caging stipulations.

Gini Valbuena shares the fears of many animal owners. She worries that notification will breed curiosity among thrill-seekers who might scale fences for a look at the exotic species, risking injury and potentially terrorizing the animals.

More fundamentally, she says, it's her business what she does on her own property. So long as she has the necessary permits and follows the laws, it's nobody else's business, she says.

"I don't think animals should be in the same classification as sexual predators in terms of notification," said Valbuena, who owns two chimpanzees she rents for parties and one-on-one encounters. "It's a total invasion."

Valbuena said she had problems with a neighbor who tormented her chimps and regularly complained to authorities about the animals.

After 28 years in her home, she moved her chimps to Sarasota a few weeks ago.

Deborah Cazin has a cougar and leopard on 7 acres in an upscale area just south of the Avila Golf & Country Club.

She gets the exotic cats when the state seizes them from owners who either run out of money or aren't able to care for the animals. She has taken in primates and other exotic species as well.

In her 30 years working with exotic cats, the only one to escape was a serval, about the size of a bobcat. She quickly captured the cat and returned it to its cage.

Cazin said exotic animals should be kept in rural areas like her property on Lake Byrd, which is zoned for agriculture. "I don't think they should be in people's backyards."

Carole Baskin, founder of Big Cat Rescue in Tampa, said she worries wildlife officials will appease some animal owners by relaxing a law that requires people who exhibit exotic animals to carry a $10,000 bond to pay for damages.

Big Cat Rescue is aware of 584 incidents since 1990 involving captive exotic cats in the United States. Those confrontations resulted in the deaths of 16 adults and five children, along with the mauling of 193 people.

Like Williams, Baskin worries that hurricanes and other natural disasters could damage cages and fencing, sending deadly animals into neighborhoods among unknowing residents.

This week, she sent a letter to neighbors of exotic animal owners stressing the dangers of living next to cougars, tigers, cobras and black mambas.

"Keeping wild animals in private collections is cruel to the animals and dangerous for you," she wrote.

Baskin plans to forward neighbors' comments and concerns to wildlife officials before the board makes its final decision on the changes June 17 and 18 in Crystal River.

Tired of your creature?

You can surrender exotic pets you no longer want, free of charge and with no questions asked, during a one-day-only event in Miami. Efforts will be made to find homes for pets that are healthy. Exotic reptiles, amphibians, birds, fish and mammals will be accepted. Domestic pets - dogs, cats, rabbits, ferrets - will not. The amnesty day will be 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday at Miami MetroZoo, 12400 S.W. 152nd St., off Florida's Turnpike southeast of Miami.

Reporter Baird Helgeson can be reached at (813) 259-7668.

Post your comments at:

http://www2.tbo.com/content/2009/mar/17/170500/na-neighbors-oh-my/

--
For the cats,

Carole Baskin, CEO of Big Cat Rescue
an Educational Sanctuary home
to more than 100 big cats
12802 Easy Street Tampa, FL  33625
813.493.4564 fax 885.4457

http://www.BigCatRescue.org
SaveTheBigCats@gmail.com

Sign our petition to protect tigers from being farmed here:

http://capwiz.com/bigcatrescue/issues/alert/?alertid=9952801&type=CU

This message contains information from Big Cat Rescue that may be
confidential or privileged. The information contained herein is intended
only for the eyes of the individual or entity named above.  You are hereby
notified that any dissemination, distribution, disclosure, and/or copying of
the information contained in this communication is strictly prohibited. The
recipient should check this e-mail and any attachments for the presence of
viruses. Big Cat Rescue accepts no liability for any damage or loss caused
by any virus transmitted by this e-mail.




Sunday, March 15, 2009

Carole's letter to Pahrump Valley Times RE: 12 big cats move in

Letter to the Editor MSmith@pvtimes.com

The term "responsible wild animal owner" is an oxymoron.  Responsible people do not endanger their communities while forcing wild animals to suffer lives of deprivation and boredom for their own amusement.  The following is a partial listing (584) of incidents in the U.S. involving captive exotic cats since 1990. The U.S. incidents have resulted in the deaths of 21 humans, 16 adults and 5 children, the additional mauling of 193 more adults and children, 170 escapes, the killing of 93 big cats, and 122 confiscations. These figures only represent the headlines that Big Cat Rescue has been able to track. Because there is no reporting agency that keeps such records the actual numbers are certainly much higher. http://www.bigcatrescue.org/big_cat_news.htm


The Journal of Internal Medicine in 2006 estimated that 50 million people worldwide have been infected with zoonotic diseases since 2000 and as many as 78,000 have died. Read more about zoonotic diseases here: http://www.bigcatrescue.org/zoonosis.htm

To see the number of exotic cats abandoned each year go to http://www.bigcatrescue.org/animal_abuse.htm

Reporters often ask, "Who keeps big cats as pets?" and their question is usually a request for contact information so that they can interview the people and get photos of them with their hands in the cages, or worse yet, rolling about on the ground with lions, tigers and other creatures designed to hunt and kill animals far more powerful than humans. It gets attention to publish such photos and that sells papers and ad space, but it also helps perpetuate the false notion that man can control such magnificent beasts. It is a romantic notion that attracts even the most intellectual in our society when we see such images splashed across the page.

As is often the case, the media is looking for eye candy and bizarre tales to titillate the public because the public is often deemed too dull to really understand matters of substance. It is a self perpetuating prophecy then that reporting entertainment and calling it news creates a society that is apathetic toward real news because it isn't considered main stream, and thus is often labeled as being the work of zealots with some imagined, anti cultural agenda.

Little do the reporters know that when they ask the question, "Who keeps dangerous animals as pets?" they are really asking one of the more profound sociological questions of our age. There is a stereotype; and as someone who grew up being described as a beautiful blonde (who would, of course, be stereotyped as dumb) I disdain stereotyping more than most, but if there is anything at which I excel, it is recognizing a pattern.

Despite my lack of formal education I score at the genius level in IQ tests because the tests do not measure what you know, but rather measure one's ability to recognize a pattern. I became successful in real estate investment by looking at hundreds of properties before buying one. I look at entire trends, or patterns of growth in areas to determine the best deals. I taught myself how to do all of my own legal work by pulling case files of similar cases and looking for what they all had in common and emulating the process. There was a time when I had 60 such foreclosures, evictions and quiet title suits pending in the same year and did them all pro se. I only ever lost one case and won it on appeal.

After rescuing 56 lynx from a fur farm and discovering there was virtually nothing available in the literature to enable me to care for the cats I began meticulously detailing every meal, every incremental gain in weight and every observation in order to compile the data into information that could then be relied upon for future reference. The BigCatRescue.org website is a culmination of much of that research and again, I taught myself how to build a website by looking at others and seeing what the good ones had in common.

Regardless of the topic, there will always be exceptions to the rules, but in the case of people who possess wild animals those exceptions are so rare that they even further emphasize the commonality of the rest. The traits are so apparent in the manner of the person and the nature of their handiwork, whether it be a web site, a blog or the way that they exploit the wildlife in their possession that even the most gullible can see through the transparent veneer.

Some of the characteristics are embraced by both genders and others are gender related.

What is almost universally shared by those who keep wild animals as pets, or props and even most of those who operate private zoos and sanctuaries is that they are uneducated, poor, unattractive, hot tempered, attention seekers. Marked differences in the genders are that men are usually slovenly, womanizing, have a criminal history or leanings, and are dependant on drugs or alcohol to manage their depression. Whereas women are most often blonde, fat, have low self esteem, are childless or estranged from their families, and prone to rages of jealousy. This generalization may sound harsh but you don't have to be a genius to observe the people involved and verify the validity of such statements yourself.

These characteristics are interrelated for obvious reasons. Those who are uneducated and unattractive have fewer opportunities for wealth, but it is human nature to blame others for misfortunes, rather than to look within, thus causing jealousy and rage. With a world of information at our fingertips, ignorance still passes from generation to generation because in some cases there is an expectation of the child that they can never do better than their parents. A child raised in an environment of domestic violence and expected entitlement without work is likely to grow up into an adult with the same attitudes and behavior. Thus it comes as no surprise that generation after generation of "tiger tamers" continue to try and support themselves from their trade even long after the public has decided that these are unacceptable ways to treat any animal.

Considering these personal traits it also makes clear the necessity of having something that makes them feel good about themselves. In the case of those who make pets of wild animals, there is a universal need on their part to portray themselves as having a bond with the wild that other "mere mortals" cannot achieve. They will always tell you that they have a special gift or training that sets them apart, so that THEY can pet the tiger, but YOU cannot. They call themselves "Educators" and drag their wild animals around from flea market to fair ground, espousing the reasons that OTHER people (the mere mortals) should not attempt to have these as pets, because only THEY are special enough to have such a pet. Roy Horn would surely have uttered the same sentiments just minutes before his tiger, Montecore, nearly killed him on stage in Las Vegas.

If you meet an exotic pet owner without a boa around their neck, or a tiger on a chain, within two minutes they have pulled out a dog-eared photo album of all of their pictures of them restraining animals that would never allow a human near them if they had the choice. In their eyes it is an immediate way to even the playing field and let others know that they are equals, if not superior. The overwhelming need to do so is a manifestation of the great lack of self esteem they feel but dare not admit, even to themselves. The mood elevating drugs (legal and illegal) and the alcohol are the only ways they can deaden themselves to the pain that cannot be remedied no matter how much they talk about their wild animal connection.

Abusing their animals and their families cannot give them a lasting sense of power. That is why they are often unmarried and estranged from their families. Their families can break free from them, but the animals are kept chained and caged, the way they might well have kept the people in their lives were it not an offense that could land them in jail. Men who could not attract a woman in any other way will often find that women (the blonde, overweight ones who have little sense of self worth) will do anything to please including cleaning his cages, his house and his underwear and giving him the affection that no woman of any self confidence would.

On the flip side of this gender role is the woman who is so physically and emotionally undesirable that no man will have her, but if she has a back yard full of tigers she can attract the attention of young men who come seeking a way to prove their manhood by subduing a wild animal that would kill him in an instant were the two to meet in a natural situation. It is the same unquenchable desire to feel empowered without paying the price of self introspection and change and could be likened to the gambler's quest for easy money without work.

By the early 1990's science was beginning to discover the extent to which animals exhibited intelligence and emotion. Anyone who has ever had a pet cat or dog could tell you that they are intelligent and that they feel loneliness, anger, resentment, embarrassment, joy and a host of emotions, but it took science hundreds of years to catch up. Keeping wild animals captive began to be considered cruel and self serving as people became aware of the fact that the tiger in the cage could experience the pain of being held against his will. It became fashionable then for exotic pet owners to call themselves "educators" and some even manage to give an educational spiel but it doesn't matter how good the message may be; if you are standing there with a cougar on a leash, no one is hearing the message. They are just thinking how cool it would be if they could have a cougar on a leash. The litmus test is the fact that these people were not doing conservation education before they needed that label to justify their behavior and the minute they can't use the animal as a prop they wouldn't choose to be in the education business.

The roadside zoo operators and pseudo sanctuarians are, in many cases, just a more organized version of the exotic pet owner and have found ways to get the public to support their delusions of grandeur. They portray themselves as rescuers and martyrs for their cause. When they are poor and filthy and uneducated they can tell themselves and others that it is because they are so altruistic that all of their time and energy is being sacrificed for the good of the animals they have saved. They quickly learn that high profile rescues and having cute babies around bring in donations. They claim to breed the animals to save them from extinction, when none of the animals in these collections are really involved in any conservation breeding programs. They claim to be educating the public to save habitat and the planet by taking their cats out to parking lots in circus wagons and setting up a donation jar. Some do a better job of fooling the public than others and the media often plays into their hands, but the only real purpose they serve is their own self aggrandizement and a way to pay their bills without having to get a real job.

This becomes abundantly clear when they have rescued dozens, or hundreds of animals and found that it is a reverse pyramid scheme that is ultimately doomed to collapse. While babies and new rescues generate money, they also add to the mouths that ultimately need to be fed. In some sanctuaries there is a practice of rescuing animals, for whom they have no space, and them forcing these animals to live in overcrowded groups. This is especially heinous in the case of big cats who are solitary by nature and hard wired to kill each other if they come in contact. That fact plays into the hands of these most abusive personalities. In some pseudo sanctuaries certain animals, deemed "too dangerous" are killed for no apparent reason than to make room for more rescues.

These exploiters can rescue far more cats if the cats kill each other and for that reason these places are often closed to the public. If the fighting and killing becomes known to the public it is rationalized by the sanctuarian who protests that it is the cat's fault if they won't get along, claiming that they did their part to rescue the animal and if it insists on getting killed, then it is the animal's lack of gratitude at fault. The same irrational reasoning is used to excuse why they do not provide medical care for the animals by caustically replying to you, as if you were the idiot, that these animals don't get medical care in the wild. The same excuse is used for not providing contraception and the side benefit they get from that is that the cubs produced are often food for the rest of the animals in the group and if they need a new baby for photo ops or for media attention there is always one to use. In order to cover their misdeeds the policies in these kinds of places are to not give the animals names, under the guise of avoiding anthropomorphism, but the real reason is because there are virtually no state or federal laws that require positive identification of the animals and not having a name makes it even harder to track what has happened to an animal after it was "rescued."

These operations invariably implode. When they do, the owners move away, abandon the animals, and tell themselves and the world that they have done their part and must retire because it has taken all they had, which was nothing to begin with. They will dramatically sweep a hand to their brow and announce that they are dying and that it is time someone else stepped up and took over. When they walk away from all of the animals that they so professed to love, they do so with no feelings of remorse because they are more affected by their sense of entitlement than to anything that resembles responsibility. They move to a new place, change their name and do it all over again.

The exotic animal "rescuers" are often the most vocal in opposition to ending the exotic pet trade. They rant incessantly about how greater restrictions on wildlife trafficking will mean that they have to euthanize all of their animals when that has never been true. Where laws have passed in the US banning the trade in wild animals there have always been grandfather clauses that allow the private owners to keep their animals until they die and there have always been exceptions made to organizations, such as accredited zoos and sanctuaries, but the ones screaming the loudest have no interest in meeting a higher standard. They use the opportunity as a platform for disseminating false information and blaming people who truly care about animals for all of their woes.

Even those "sanctuarians" who do not publicly speak out against more protective laws do virtually nothing to assist in their passage. Some may pay lip service to the activity but it doesn't take long to figure out that they know nothing of the pending legislation in their state nor at a federal level. They love to cite the IRS as their reason to not get involved, implying or stating that charities cannot participate in any way, but that isn't true. They frequently excuse their behavior by saying that they "don't like politics" or will say they are too busy with their mission to get involved. That makes as much sense as feverishly bailing out an overflowing bathtub and saying you are too busy or too averse to knobs to turn off the water. The fact of the matter is that they define themselves by being perceived as saviors and if there were no wild animals to save they would lose their only redeeming feature.

Keeping wild animals, especially exotic cats, came into vogue in the sixties, largely due to television shows that portrayed a person as being special if they had such a pet or relationship. Television programming created the illusion of a world where people could live with lions, tigers, bears, dolphins and all manner of wild animals. Our society, long removed from any real experience with nature, longed to believe that it was not only possible, but that the animals preferred captivity to living free. Ask almost any woman who has a back yard full of lions what her first memory of that attraction was and she will often cite "Born Free" as being that "life changing moment." They conveniently forget the fact that Elsa died very shortly after being abandoned by the people who raised her as a pet and then returned her to the wild with no pride and no hunting skills.

We now have nearly half a century of data on the subject of people who keep wild animals captive and yet until the time that you read these words you probably never saw an in depth investigation into the troubled and delusional minds of those who are the captors. And that begs an even more important question..."why not?"

Not to minimize its deleterious effects on the person practicing it, but consider how much attention has been focused on women who vomit after every meal to stay thin. Oddly, the initial instigator is one and the same in that television portrays the perfect women as being gaunt to the point of it being an unrealistic achievement barring bulimia or some latter stage disease. You can't check out in a grocery store line without seeing headlines about celebrities weight struggles, and yet, to my knowledge, no one was ever so fat or so thin that an innocent bystander was killed or mauled by coming in close contact with people who are diagnosed as being obsessed with their appearance. Just since 1990 there have been more than 650 incidents involving captive big cats in the U.S. So why is it that you rarely hear more than a passing comment about the mental instability of most wild animal owners?

I think it may be the same reason that it took me, someone who takes great pride in their ability to recognize a pattern, more than 15 years to see what was undeniably before my eyes. To look objectively at the similarities in these tiger-tamer-wannabees meant that I had to look within as well. Not only who I was; blond, fat, uneducated, poor, lacking self esteem and estranged from my family, but who I am today. It wasn't until I was willing to take a good hard look in the mirror that I could plainly see underlying neurosis that so many of us share.

I am fortunate to not have grown up impoverished or in the presence of domestic violence. The very thing that makes so many "animal people" unemployable; their disdain for conformity, is what makes me successful in business, so I am fortunate to have been able to turn that to my advantage. My estrangement from my family was only because I felt like I wasn't good enough for them, and once I came to appreciate my talents we were rejoined and have worked together, side by side in caring for the animals. Having overcome obesity, cigarettes and alcohol I feel empowered and in control of my own life. Perhaps if I had not been so blessed, I would never have been able to cast the harsh light of reality on the mass illusion that I once shared. Mass illusion, because it extends to much of our society; not just those who are in possession of animals who were meant to live free.

It is that shared illusion that keeps the majority from wanting to wake from the dream. We hear about a man keeping a tiger and an alligator in his Harlem apartment and we say that he "just wasn't thinking." We hear of a woman with 50 tigers in her back yard and no way to feed them and say she "just wasn't thinking." We watch as the lifeless body of a tiger who was shot to death for escaping is hauled away and say the person responsible "just wasn't thinking." Cruelty is not the result of "just not thinking." The fact of the matter is that WE just aren't thinking, and we are choosing not to think about the plight of the animals because our own participation in their abuse is something we are unwilling to face or change.

We are a generation who was raised with zoos and circuses and even our religions proclaimed man to be master of all beasts, with little or nothing said about the command to be good stewards. We want to believe that our goodness is so palpable that even the most ferocious of animals would give up their freedom just to live in our homes. Even those who do not currently live that way often will say, "if I won the lottery, I'd have a pet tiger" as if to say that money is all that keeps them from indulging such fantasy. When we see that cute baby animal being cuddled on some talk show we choose to NOT think about where the animal's mother is, or how it came to be that he was taken from her to be used this way. When we pay to see a film about tiger brothers, even when we know that more than 30 tigers were used in the film, we choose to NOT think about where those animal will be a year from now.

If we acknowledge great suffering and choose to look the other way, how can we reconcile our conscience? When the answers are so easy and cost us little more than a few letters and phone calls to our legislators, and yet we are unwilling to do even that small thing to alleviate the suffering of tens of thousands of wild animals who are languishing in cages, possessed by a class of people who would be criminals if they treated people the way they treat their "beloved pets" how can we feel good about ourselves? Sometimes the truth hurts, but no one suffers more than the exotic animals when the only thing they have; their desire to live free, is taken from them.

The purpose here is not to insult or cast blame, but to demystify the nature of the typical exotic cat owner. I believe that we are all on a path to our higher self and that even the worst of the abusers will one day look inside and redirect their actions. Until that time comes the words of Martin Luther King, Jr. still ring true, "Legislation cannot change the heart, but it can restrain the heartless.

Feel free to quote me.


--
For the cats,

Carole Baskin, CEO of Big Cat Rescue
an Educational Sanctuary home
to more than 100 big cats
12802 Easy Street Tampa, FL  33625
813.493.4564 fax 885.4457

http://www.BigCatRescue.org
SaveTheBigCats@gmail.com

Sign our petition to protect tigers from being farmed here:

http://capwiz.com/bigcatrescue/issues/alert/?alertid=9952801&type=CU

This message contains information from Big Cat Rescue that may be
confidential or privileged. The information contained herein is intended
only for the eyes of the individual or entity named above.  You are hereby
notified that any dissemination, distribution, disclosure, and/or copying of
the information contained in this communication is strictly prohibited. The
recipient should check this e-mail and any attachments for the presence of
viruses. Big Cat Rescue accepts no liability for any damage or loss caused
by any virus transmitted by this e-mail.




Friday, March 13, 2009

Should Neighbors Know When Dangerous Animals Move In?

Should Neighbors Know When Dangerous Animals Move In?

Published: March 13, 2009


Susan Williams lives among cattle ranches and a growing number of new homes.

So she was more than a little surprised a couple years ago when rumors circulated that her neighbor had a tiger and a grizzly bear on his Okeechobee property.

Williams' curiosity led her to call the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. Sure enough, the neighbor had permits for a tiger, a grizzly and four other bears.

"I was astounded," Williams said. "I couldn't believe he didn't have to tell us that these animals were out there."

The wildlife commission is tweaking its requirements for those who own exotic species, and Williams is among a group pushing for neighborhood notification when people have exotic and dangerous species.

Many of the most dangerous animals in Florida aren't in zoos or sanctuaries. They are in people's houses, at fledgling private animal attractions, or in once-rural settings now surrounded by subdivisions.

More than 400 Florida businesses and individuals have Class I or Class II permits, which allow for the most wild and lethal species. These permit-holders can have animals including lions and elephants, alligators and monkeys. The Tampa Bay area is home to more than 30 licenses, including Lowry Park Zoo, Big Cat Rescue and a seven-acre refuge where a Tampa woman has a cougar and a leopard.

Three years of public hearings over the rule changes fueled a growing tension between some animal owners who wish to keep their collections private and neighbors fearful of dangerous species living so close to residential areas.

Some of the 14 proposed changes are less controversial, like changing the American alligator to a Class II animal.

For now, at least, Williams' neighborhood notification is not among the proposed changes.

Wildlife officials decided notification wouldn't do much good because neighborhood objections aren't grounds for denying a permit, said Capt. Linda Harrison, a commission spokeswoman.

Instead, the commission focused on setting strict criteria for those wanting the most dangerous species, like requiring a minimum of 5 acres, property that allows commercial uses, and a host of fencing and caging requirements.

Gini Valbuena shares the fears of many animal owners. She worries notification would breed curiosity among thrill-seekers who might scale fences for a look at the exotic species, risking injury and potentially terrorizing the animals.

More fundamentally, she says, it's her business what she does on her own property. So long as she has the necessary permits and follows the laws, it's nobody else's business.

"I don't think animals should be in the same classification as sexual predators in terms of notification," said Valbuena, who owns two chimpanzees she rents for parties and one-on-one encounters. "It's a total invasion."

Valbuena said she had problems with a neighbor who tormented her chimps and regularly complained to authorities about the animals.

After 28 years in her home, she moved her chimps to Sarasota a few weeks ago.

Deborah Cazin has a cougar and the leopard on 7 acres in an upscale area just south of the Avila Golf and Country Club.

She gets the exotic cats when the state seizes them from other owners who either run out of money or aren't able to care for the animals. She has taken in primates and other exotic species over the years, as well.

In her 30 years working with exotic cats, the only one to escape was a serval, about the size of a bobcat. She quickly captured the cat and returned it to its cage.

Cazin said exotic animals should only be kept in rural areas, like her property on Lake Byrd, which is zoned for agriculture. "I don't think they should be in people's backyards."

Carole Baskin, founder of Big Cat Rescue in Tampa, said she worries wildlife officials will appease animal owners by relaxing a law that requires those who exhibit exotic animals to carry a $10,000 bond to pay for damages.

Big Cat Rescue is aware of 584 incidents since 1990 involving captive exotic cats in the U.S. Those confrontations resulted in the deaths of 16 adults and five children, along with the mauling of 193 people.

Like Williams, Baskin worries hurricanes and other natural disasters could damage cages and fencing, sending deadly animals into the neighborhoods of unknowing residents.

This week, she sent a letter to neighbors of exotic animal owners stressing the dangers of living next to cougars, tigers, cobras and black mambas.

"Keeping wild animals in private collections is cruel to the animals and dangerous for you," she wrote.

Baskin plans to forward neighbors' comments and concerns to wildlife officials before the board makes its final decision on the changes June 17 and 18 in Crystal River.

Reporter Baird Helgeson can be reached at (813) 259-7668.

http://www2.tbo.com/content/2009/mar/13/should-neighbors-know-when-dangerous-animals-move/

--
For the cats,

Carole Baskin, CEO of Big Cat Rescue
an Educational Sanctuary home
to more than 100 big cats
12802 Easy Street Tampa, FL  33625
813.493.4564 fax 885.4457

http://www.BigCatRescue.org
SaveTheBigCats@gmail.com

Sign our petition to protect tigers from being farmed here:

http://capwiz.com/bigcatrescue/issues/alert/?alertid=9952801&type=CU

This message contains information from Big Cat Rescue that may be
confidential or privileged. The information contained herein is intended
only for the eyes of the individual or entity named above.  You are hereby
notified that any dissemination, distribution, disclosure, and/or copying of
the information contained in this communication is strictly prohibited. The
recipient should check this e-mail and any attachments for the presence of
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Monday, March 09, 2009

111 Class I facilities do not appear to have complied w/ 10k bond

We fought hard to get a law passed that forces Class I owners to carry a $10,000.00 bond.  The FWC finagled the language to read Class I Exhibitors, but at the time we didn't fight that language change too much, because the only license you could get to have a lion, tiger, bear, chimp, etc. said you had to Exhibit or Sell.  They weren't separate licenses.  The intend of the bond was to make sure anyone with a big, dangerous, wild animal had a bond posted with the state to cover damage the animal may do to the public or property.

The following is a summary of the 2009 list of Class I and Class II licensees in FL.

            
In 2006 the FWC listed 350 licensed addresses for Class I and Class II animals    
           
In 2006 254 were listed by address, and 96 only listed a P.O. box     
         
In 2009  there were 407 licensed addresses for Class I and Class II animals  & all had a street address listed (after we raised Cain over it)
           
In 2007 the bond requirement was passed for all Class I Exhibitors to carry a 10,000.00 bond as of Jan 2008   
           
In 2007 the only legal way to possess a Class I animal was for Exhibition or Sale
               
In 2009 222 licensees possessed Class I animals and most should have been subject to bond by their activities       
       
In 2009 122 licensees did not have current bonds and 111 probably never did according to this list               
               
57    More Class I & II licensees than just 3 years ago
           
122    Licensed locations for Class I Cats:  Lions, Tigers, Leopards, Jaguars, Bears, Chimps, etc.   
        
114    Licensed locations for Class II cats, such as Cougars, Servals, Bobcats, Caracals, Lynx, Clouded Leopards, and others           

In fairness to the FWC the list they sent me on 2/12/09 (see tab) showed our bond to expire on 1/9/09 and we had renewed it in Jan 2009, so their info could be outdated by a couple of months although their list did have several notations of facilities that obviously renewed in Jan 2009 as they expire in Jan 2010.               
Still is looks like 111 of the facilities never did post a bond as  no expiration date was listed.        
       
This should be investigated thoroughly.  The FWC will usually say they are breeders and not exhibitors, but that just isn't true.  One of the facilities (Kathy Stearns) was just in the news a couple days ago letting people pose with a tiger for photos, and yet this report indicates that she never posted the bond.  Even an Internet investigation will show that most of the non bonded facilities do exhibit Class I animals to the public.

I think the lawmakers who passed the bond requirement, at the suggestion of their many constituents, need to make sure it is being enforced.  They should also stop the FWC from passing a rule (their new Sanctuary definition) that gives Class I owners a loophole to avoid posting the bond.



--
For the cats,

Carole Baskin, CEO of Big Cat Rescue
an Educational Sanctuary home
to more than 100 big cats
12802 Easy Street Tampa, FL  33625
813.493.4564 fax 885.4457

http://www.BigCatRescue.org
SaveTheBigCats@gmail.com

Sign our petition to protect tigers from being farmed here:

http://capwiz.com/bigcatrescue/issues/alert/?alertid=9952801&type=CU

This message contains information from Big Cat Rescue that may be
confidential or privileged. The information contained herein is intended
only for the eyes of the individual or entity named above.  You are hereby
notified that any dissemination, distribution, disclosure, and/or copying of
the information contained in this communication is strictly prohibited. The
recipient should check this e-mail and any attachments for the presence of
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by any virus transmitted by this e-mail.




Saturday, March 07, 2009

Perrysburg Ban on Big Cats

Perrysburg Ban on Big Cats

Written by Sentinel Staff Friday, 06 March 2009

PERRYSBURG - A proposed ordinance to ban so-called "exotic" animals from
Perrysburg has been sent back for revision.

City council's Service Safety Committee this week reviewed the proposed law
and decided it needed some fine tuning.

According to committee member Tom Mackin, there was concern the law as
originally written could be misinterpreted to include certain breeds of dog,
particularly so-called "vicious" dogs like pit bulls or German shepherds.

The ordinance was sent back to city Law Director Mathew Baredo for revision.
Mackin said the committee will review changes next month before the proposal
is sent before all of council for consideration and possible adoption.

The law, as originally drafted, would allow police to criminally charge any
exotic pet owner. "It shall be unlawful for any person in the city of
Perrysburg to keep, maintain, or have possession or control over any 'exotic
animal,'" the proposed law reads, in part.


http://www.sent-trib.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=11989&Itemid\
=209


You can comment there.

--
For the cats,

Carole Baskin, CEO of Big Cat Rescue
an Educational Sanctuary home
to more than 100 big cats
12802 Easy Street Tampa, FL  33625
813.493.4564 fax 885.4457

http://www.BigCatRescue.org
SaveTheBigCats@gmail.com

Sign our petition to protect tigers from being farmed here:

http://capwiz.com/bigcatrescue/issues/alert/?alertid=9952801&type=CU

This message contains information from Big Cat Rescue that may be
confidential or privileged. The information contained herein is intended
only for the eyes of the individual or entity named above.  You are hereby
notified that any dissemination, distribution, disclosure, and/or copying of
the information contained in this communication is strictly prohibited. The
recipient should check this e-mail and any attachments for the presence of
viruses. Big Cat Rescue accepts no liability for any damage or loss caused
by any virus transmitted by this e-mail.




WHAT DO YOU THINK?: Exotic Pet Debate Heats Up in Salem

WHAT DO YOU THINK?: Exotic Pet Debate Heats Up in Salem

Comments 6 | Recommended 4

The exotic pet debate heated up in Salem Thursday. Law makers are considering making it illegal for Oregonians to keep wild animals as pets.

Oregon is one of 22 states that lets private citizens own wild animals like lions, bears, monkeys and some exotic reptiles, but that could change with a bill being heard in Salem.

"Why are we bringing those animals in? Is it for the animal's sake or is it for our own?" questions Bill Templeman with the Southern Oregon Humane Society.

Some states are revisiting exotic animal laws after a chimpanzee attack in Connecticut. Those who support state restrictions say Oregon's laws are too lax.

"There's not only for the safety of the people involved, but there's also the animals. You know, a chimpanzee in the wild does not live in a home," says Templeman.

Southern Oregon Humane Society is not actively supporting bans, but at the state and national level the Humane Society is.

"We believe in respecting all life and treating all life in a humane way. And that said, we do not necessarily think it's humane to bring an animal out of its natural environment," says Templeman.

He says staggering numbers of animals are put down each year because people can't take care of them like they thought they could.

"We don't believe we've done a good enough job taking care of the animals we've domesticated already, of dogs and cats," he says.

Templeman spends most of his time looking for homes for these abandoned dogs and cats. He says they're not set up to help save exotic animals.

"Sometimes we get calls from with reptiles like they got an alligator when it's really small and now it's not so small and they say 'what do I do?  I don't want this anymore.'"

Bottom line, Templeman says wild animals are just that: wild.  He says they're not fit for most homes.

"It's very difficult to domesticate a wild animal. It takes many generations of looking for the right personalities and the right traits," he says.

Lawmakers heard from the public Thursday. The senate bill will have to be considered in a work session before it can be voted on and so far no work session is scheduled.

http://www.ktvl.com/articles/animals_1189291___article.html/exotic_humanehtml

You can post a comment on this page.

--
For the cats,

Carole Baskin, CEO of Big Cat Rescue
an Educational Sanctuary home
to more than 100 big cats
12802 Easy Street Tampa, FL  33625
813.493.4564 fax 885.4457

http://www.BigCatRescue.org
SaveTheBigCats@gmail.com

Sign our petition to protect tigers from being farmed here:

http://capwiz.com/bigcatrescue/issues/alert/?alertid=9952801&type=CU

This message contains information from Big Cat Rescue that may be
confidential or privileged. The information contained herein is intended
only for the eyes of the individual or entity named above.  You are hereby
notified that any dissemination, distribution, disclosure, and/or copying of
the information contained in this communication is strictly prohibited. The
recipient should check this e-mail and any attachments for the presence of
viruses. Big Cat Rescue accepts no liability for any damage or loss caused
by any virus transmitted by this e-mail.




Friday, March 06, 2009

How did the hearing go?

Cutler Bay, resident battle over exotic animals

A code compliance hearing Wednesday in Cutler Bay aims to end a year-long conflict between a resident and the town over exotic animals.

hcohen@MiamiHerald.com

There was Noah and his ark which, some historians say, wound up in Armenia. Today, there's Glenn Fried and his menagerie in Cutler Bay. Some wish it, too, could end up elsewhere.

Fried's furry friends are at the center of a battle between the homeowner and Cutler Bay.

Fried claims to have the right to house exotic animals on his private property and that he is not running a business from his home.

However, town officials say they have just cause to respond to complaints from neighbors over the storage of cages and exotic animals in a residential neighborhood.

The issue could generate even more interest in the wake of a Connecticut woman recently mauled by a neighbor's 14-year-old pet chimpanzee.

Fried contends his animals are safe and well taken care of. There have been no complaints that any of his animals have harmed anyone.

His alligators, for instance, are babies and are returned to a Homestead animal farm when they get too big, he said.

''You probably have bigger lizards,'' he said.

A code compliance hearing has been scheduled for 1 p.m. Wednesday at Cutler Bay's town hall, 10720 Caribbean Blvd., Suite 105.

Both sides said they hope the hearing will end a battle that started in September 2007 when a neighbor complained of smells that came from Fried's property.

There have been several day-long special magistrate hearings over the issue since June.

''Ordinarily, these types of hearings are concluded in an hour or less. It's very unusual to have hearings stretch out over numerous days,'' said Mitch Bierman, an attorney who represents Cutler Bay. ``This person seems to have made it a personal cause to argue that there aren't violations rather than bringing his property up to compliance.''

On the length of time this issue has drawn out, Fried can agree.

''It's gone beyond absurd,'' Fried said.

He owns the EnvironMental Connections Group, a nonprofit that provides exotic animals for environmental show-and-tell wildlife presentations to schools, public functions and at parties.

Some of Fried's animals include a kangaroo, snakes, lemurs, ferrets, chinchillas and salamanders.

Fried said he's been unduly cited for electrical violations, improper storage of animals and anything else he says the town can use to get him to abandon his wildlife program.

In November, Fried said he was cited eight times -- ''they wallpapered my door and taped them up to cover as much of the door surface as possible'' -- for infractions including illegal electrical work, structures built without permits and operating a business without a proper license.

The town sent The Miami Herald a copy of a petition, signed by eight residents in February 2008 and entered in previous hearings, with complaints of cages, odors and rats that have been drawn to the smell and cage droppings.

But Fried said, ``They can't see or hear any animals. They say neighbors have been complaining about the smell but [Miami-Dade County] Animal Services testified there was no smell at all. The mayor is saying we have dangerous animals and they smell, but he's never been to our house.''

Fried, 51, also contends that Mayor Paul Vrooman approached him after an animal show at Cutler Ridge Park in the winter of 2007 during the first Founder's Day celebration and questioned him about the business.

'He said, `You shouldn't do that, the zoo does that,' '' Fried said.

``I thought it was an odd comment, but then after doing research I find he's marketing research director for the zoo.''

Vrooman no longer is affiliated with Miami Metrozoo and is now marketing director at the University of Miami's Division of Continuing and International Education.

Vrooman referred comment to the town's attorneys but did say, ``We enforce our laws in Cutler Bay. Otherwise, why have them? They are not there for fun. They need to be there.''

Both sides want to put an end to this Wednesday.

Fried said he has complied with requests to properly store the animals and he wants fines he feels are unfair eliminated -- they top $4,000.

''We used to do a whole lot more volunteering, but now spend money and time fighting. . . . This has drained us,'' he said.

However, Bierman hopes the hearing officer will rule that the violations were appropriately cited and that the officer ``directs the property owner to correct the violations.''

 
  • BigCatRescue wrote on 03/06/2009 10:47:58 AM:

    The following is a partial listing (584) of incidents in the U.S. involving captive exotic cats since 1990. The U.S. incidents have resulted in the deaths of 21 humans, 16 adults and 5 children, the additional mauling of 193 more adults and children, 170 escapes, the killing of 93 big cats, and 122 confiscations. http://www.bigcatrescue.org/big_cat_news.htm

    The Journal of Internal Medicine in 2006 estimated that 50 million people worldwide have been infected with zoonotic diseases since 2000 and as many as 78,000 have died. Read more about zoonotic diseases here: http://www.bigcatrescue.org/zoonosis.htm

    To see the number of exotic cats abandoned each year go to http://www.bigcatrescue.org/animal_abuse.htm


http://www.miamiherald.com/news/miami_dade/pinecrest/story/925868.html

--
For the cats,

Carole Baskin, CEO of Big Cat Rescue
an Educational Sanctuary home
to more than 100 big cats
12802 Easy Street Tampa, FL  33625
813.493.4564 fax 885.4457

http://www.BigCatRescue.org
SaveTheBigCats@gmail.com

Sign our petition to protect tigers from being farmed here:

http://capwiz.com/bigcatrescue/issues/alert/?alertid=9952801&type=CU

This message contains information from Big Cat Rescue that may be
confidential or privileged. The information contained herein is intended
only for the eyes of the individual or entity named above.  You are hereby
notified that any dissemination, distribution, disclosure, and/or copying of
the information contained in this communication is strictly prohibited. The
recipient should check this e-mail and any attachments for the presence of
viruses. Big Cat Rescue accepts no liability for any damage or loss caused
by any virus transmitted by this e-mail.