I’m not ready to cuddle with a tarantula

Posted by Big Rat on Campus on Feb 7, 2012 in Rat News | Subscribe

Full disclosure. Blunt disclaimer. Right up front. I am biased and my lifetime opinion is not likely to change. I am a proud and hopeless sucker for pets!

I love pets- er, most pets. Mostly dogs, but cats are okay. I have never-ever done time as an animal rights crusader. Never signed a petition for anything to do with animals.

I’m just a very normal, average and mushy pet lover. An “isn’t that adorable,” ooh, aah, slobber, cuddle and melt pushover kind of pet lover.

I love most pets.  My love doesn’t quite extend to tarantulas, pet rats or any mouse-looking furry things with twitching noses, creepy-skinned lizards, slimy snakes and yelpy, whiny anythings.

Our kids had the mandatory gerbils and the matching plastic-cylinders runs and houses. Besides, I always thought- give or take spelling- gerbils were just fat mice with a cutesy name.

A friend once had a de-stinked pet skunk. A woman at work used to brag about watching TV while having a small, pot-bellied pig who loved caramel corn, cuddled on the couch beside her. I could never relate to those kinds of pets, either.

Now and then there’s a news report about local officials raiding a private home and rescuing a ridiculous number of cats, dogs or both living in stench and filth.

Occasionally we hear about awful, nasty and isolated situations of weird pets in suburbia- like big snakes and chimpanzees— reverting back to their wild origins and turning on humans.

As a hopeless pet lover, I realize that sometimes basics smarts and common sense do require rules and by-laws.

In the Haldimand neighbourhood, the Welland and District Humane Society does County-wide animal control according to the by-laws ‘on the books.’ As in most municipalities, all dogs must be licensed.

Also, this is the second year for the Haldimand by-law to prohibit buying (not owning) ‘exotic’ animals such as reptiles, snakes, budgies and Guinea pigs.

As is all too common with quirky, token by-laws, it usually sounds good and impressive on paper, but enforcement is impossible and makes a mockery of the original intent.

Importing a python or a miniature alligator from Hamilton or Grimsby and giving it a home in Caledonia is not illegal. Buying one in Caledonia is illegal.  

Last week, Hamilton politicians tried to be a bit more realistic and passed a by-law with a limit of four pets per household in the city, except in the rural areas, like parts of Glanbrook, where there still can be an unlimited number of pets running around, competing for food and pooping all over the house.

Before last week’s new rules, Hamilton allowed only two pets per home, but Animal Control begrudgingly acknowledges that in the past seven years, they had only issued six tickets to people who violated the pet limit bylaw.

Despite the occasional, fluky and nasty story about people being mauled or bitten by “pets” that defy common sense and smarts- even for a hopeless pet lover- it is political tokenism to pretend to actually be doing something by making unenforceable laws about how many cats are allowed in someone’s house or banning tarantulas, lizards, pythons and mini-pigs and alligators in the living room.

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