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Posted by jcherry on November 17, 2002 at 23:27:13:
Reptiles, Headlines & Responsibilities
Recently in your newsletter, I read the report on the Mansfield ban on reptiles over 4í. When I read it all I could think about is all the recent negative publicity that this hobby has gotten and what a shame it was when a few irresponsible people cause so much trouble for the competent hobbyist.
Every time we have someone use a snake or lizard to display in public what they perceive as an innocent display of love for the animal and it causes unreasonable response from others in the area that do not have our love for these animals it seems it never fails to make headlines in the paper and/or local TV news. Every time we have a keeper of venomous snakes make a mistake and get nailed the same thing seems to happen. And everyone in the hobby loses. Why you may ask, well for every one herper that sees the incident on the news or in the paper there are 100ís, if not thousands of non-herpers that see it and we always end up looking like irresponsible nuts in their eyes. Why should this matter to us you might ask, well simply put these other folks are the council members, judges, commissioners or in other words "law makers" that control our world.
We come off as jerks that have no respect for others fears in these confrontations and always lose. I hate the fact that people react as violently and irrationally as they do when it comes to reptiles, but the fact remains that they do. I take it very personally when confronted by these displays of fear and loathing and over the years have found the only way to change the reaction is with slow deliberate education of those with these fears. Some I have been able to convert or at least calmly reason with, but with some and probably most it is a lost cause especially with adults. Children are much more receptive and that is why it is so important for all of us to be members of clubs such as yours and actively educate them through programs at 4-H clubs, Scout Troops and other places we can gain access to them. These fears are learned things not natural aversions and can be impacted while these kids are still in the learning stages of their personal lives.
As a group, we herpers need to understand this phenomenon and commit ourselves to conducting ourselves in a responsible manner. Public display of our animals is not only irresponsible, but can and in the past has been detrimental to the well being of our animals. We owe it to the hobby, our animals and ourselves to remember this and actively discourage it when confronted with it.
If we do not we can all expect for the laws and regulations governing our hobby to become more and more restrictive over the coming years. I donít appreciate people that are causing that to happen and I will be in the forefront of any fight to prevent it from happening. But the fight will be much easier to win if we donít have these stupid displays to contend with.
Please excuse my rantings, but is high time some of us got upset about this type activity and took a stand before it is too late. I love this hobby and wants my grandchildren to be able to experience it the way I have.