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Posted by Adam Britton on April 16, 2003 at 02:43:01:
In Reply to: Re: The real problem... posted by John_White on April 15, 2003 at 07:45:52:
>>>Hopefully, the main barrier between an overenthusiastic 12 year old kid purchasing a dangerous animal is the kids parents!<<<
We can forget that one then! The overall quality of parents has been in precipitous decline for years.
>>>The core problem is supply and demand. As long as there is demand there will be supply. I think it's possible to reduce the demand by educating potential buyers.<<<
I think you're dreaming! :) Or rather, preaching to the easily converted. Yes, of course if you reduce demand then you'll fix "the problem", but history has a habit of proving that demand will always remain strong when the "have-nots" are exposed to what the "haves" take for granted. If you ban something without reducing demand you'll simply open an illegal market, whereas if you have a free-for-all then the item in demand isn't always going to end up in the right hands. The solution is a precarious balance of control, legislation, education and common sense. I'm not arguing that pet stores are the only barrier to an unfortunate interface between Nile crocodiles and inappropriate owners, but if we rewind back to what started this discussion I'm pointing out that the pet store owner in this case has proven the weak link. While that may be unavoidable, Bryan OKC demonstrably shows how it can be avoided. Still, despite Bryan's best efforts, he knows that by refusing a sale the potential owner will simply go elsewhere and find a weaker link.
Perhaps my point can be best summarised this way: it should be easier to monitor and control a relatively small number of pet stores compared with a very large base of end users.
>>>To me the exotic pet trade is similar in some aspects to the drug trade. Who do you target the dealers or the users?<<<
But the dealers are operating illegally, hence they cannot by definition be controlled, so you're left with targeting the users (and has that worked? Not likely). The pet trade is, in the example we're talking about at least, operating legally. Many have argued that legalising selected drugs is the best way to reduce the illegal market and hence introduce some degree of control. It acknowledges that the demand cannot be snuffed out, so it goes for a control system that has a greater chance of working. And that means not controlling use, but controlling supply - legal yet controlled, and hence monitored. Trade issues are the same - ban trade to force it underground where it cannot be monitored, or allow a legal trade which enables a degree of control and monitoring. The pet trade needs controls (not bans!) that work, and I think the argument that all the people can be "educated" is unfortunately specious. Education has an important role to play, don't get me wrong, but it's only part of the solution.
It would be nice to assume that pet stores could exercise that control themselves, but despite a few exceptional cases that's unrealistic. I think it's equally unrealistic to expect the end user (again with the few exceptions) to make up the shortfall. So I view the pet store solution more feasible than the end user solution, mainly in terms of scope.