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Keeping pets


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Posted by MsTT on May 11, 2003 at 14:57:38:

In Reply to: Venomous or venomoid. It dosn't matter. We are all evil. posted by john_licata on May 11, 2003 at 09:06:25:

I think that responsible pet ownership boils down to the simple question: are you hurting the animal or not?

Many companion animals have wonderful lives and appear to really benefit from the good care they receive from their responsible and knowledgeable owners. Other animals kept as pets are inadequately housed, poorly fed, frequently stressed and roughly handled with no consideration for their comfort.

Despite our tendency to anthropomorphize, it is difficult to determine objectively whether a snake in a cage has a more or less happy and comfortable life than a snake left in the wild. I think our judgement should be based on the clearly observable physical and behavioral signs.

Does the animal show calm and normal behaviors that do not indicate pain or stress, does it feed regularly, does it breed? Or does it constantly push against the walls of its cage in an attempt to escape, rubbing its nose raw? Does it often show behaviors that can be interpreted as stress or fear or pain? Does it refuse food or become lethargic and ill in captivity?

I think all these things are good benchmarks as to whether or not a snake is comfortable in captivity. I don't believe snakes have the capacity to feel happy or sad, but they can feel comfortable and content or uncomfortable and stressed. They can certainly suffer and feel pain. I think it is our responsibility to keep our snakes comfortable and as free from pain and stress as possible.

Putting our pets through major invasive surgery for our convenience, especially when the surgery is performed in an inappropriate manner with inadequate pain relief, is pretty clearly on the side of doing harm. Keeping them comfortable in a cage is not.

What you seem to be saying is that it is not possible to keep any snake in captivity without hurting it, therefore it is okay to hurt it on purpose if we want to. I strongly disagree with that premise. If you own a pet, it is your responsibility to keep it comfortably housed and not to cause it pain or suffering. No amount of moral weaselling makes it okay to hurt a snake on purpose for your amusement, just because it's okay to keep them as pets.

TT


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