08/03/20 A snake escaped? Shouldn't be a pet in the first place!

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Animal Friends Croatia reacts to abandonment as well as on the escapes of exotic animals

- A so-called Positive list of species which are allowed to be kept as pets and a Regulation on a state level related to conditions of housing must be brought and established

Animal Friends Croatia responded to a recent event upon the escape of the royal python from the backyard of a family house. They drew attention to the fact that there is no clear law legislative for keeping snakes or any other exotic animals as pets in Croatia, which is wrong for the pets, the people, and the environment.

„This means that in practice, all of this is given and left in hands of a person who buys this animal, which is completely unacceptable and results exactly with those kinds of situations where animals – due to the irresponsibility of the guardian – simply escape, and if not found, they are left to their death because they cannot survive in nature“ – as it has been warned from AFC.

They state that the Law of animals protection defines pets very generally, and in their regulations, the focus is primarily on dogs and cats: „ Law determines only that conditions and a way of keeping pets are regulated with general acts by representatives of cities and municipalities which should be much more detailed in defining such conditions for each specie that might potentially end up as a pet. It is absolutely clear that cities and municipalities are not able to determine something like that as this would require professional knowledge about reptiles, fish, birds, and other species; therefore it should be regulated with a directive at the state level. This is why such resolutions brought by cities and municipalities are very general“.

AFC has been pointing this problem for years. While adopting legislation of the Animal Protection Act in 2017, a proposition from the Organisation to establish a so-called Positive list, that is, a list of species which are allowed to be kept as pets, was even implemented to Law's motion; but was denied at the end due to high pressure from lobbies of pets industry.

Such lists are already in force in Belgium, Netherlands, and Luxemburg, while many other countries from the EU are considering its implementation. „Positive list, which would allow keeping only certain species is more desirable due to its simplicity while at the same time it enables better control over animal trade as well as higher protection of people and environment“ – as stated by the Organization.

They also added how, regretfully, many organizations today which are taking care of dogs and cats also accommodate snakes, exotic birds, turtles, and similar animals that are being abandoned by humans or have escaped. This for them represents an additional burden and liability as Croatia does not have specialized shelters for those kinds of animals, especially if taken into consideration that many of those have a high life expectancy; for example iguanas 20, snakes 30, and turtles and parrots 50 or even more years.

„Not many people are aware that each exotic animal abandoned by its guardian or which escapes, becomes a responsibility for other people, and the consequences are high.

For many species, especially exotic animals, life in captivity may have tragic consequences as it is extremely hard or even impossible to ensure their welfare and specialized care as well as food and housing throughout the years. This can lead to severe problems with keeping those animals, and it can also be harmful to biological diversity and the health of the people and animals in general. Usual examples are those of exotic pets that suffer from inadequate nutrition, injuries from incorrect usage of artificial heating or light, problems with their behavior as well as medical care. For many species, there is a lack of quality information, or information is simply being ignored. Besides, wild animals carry and transmit around 72% of zoonosis, and certain species are dangerous due to their aggressive or toxic nature. Therefore, those animals suffer and die just too early.

„Abandoning exotic animals is a huge problem for the environment. Whilst some animals which are being released cannot survive in nature, some species can survive and become invasive, spread diseases, disturb habitats, and become a threat to other species by extinction. We have for example red ear turtles in the lakes of city's park Maksimir which have been released and which have practically put extinct originally habituated European pond terrapin. There are more than 12 thousands of invasive foreign species in Europe and more than 12 billions of euros have been spent in Europe on yearly basis for controlling them and for the restoration of damage they have caused.“ – says AFC, which strongly oppose breeding and selling animals and are trying to direct people to foster abandoned dogs and cats.

They find that the only true solution is to raise awareness about the inadmissibility of purchasing and imprisoning living creatures. Still, the legislators must ensure at least basic changes in order for the situation to become controllable and in order to stop the escalation.

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