Why you should care about Truro's exotic pet bylaw

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We should all try to stick up for the little guy sometimes

I don’t own a pet. I don’t know the young man who carried his seven-foot boa constrictor around Truro on several occasions this spring and I don’t have a particular love of exotic animals.

On Monday, however, I did attend a Truro Town Council meeting to speak out against the new bylaw requiring exotic pets such as snakes and spiders to be kept in escape-proof containers if taken outside the home.

From my standpoint, the bylaw was enacted in response to a single person – Kenny Oliver – carrying his pet snake Titus around the downtown core this spring.

The snake has never harmed anyone. No one was ever bitten, squeezed or assaulted in any way.

Unfortunately, many people fear snakes and some complained to their local councillors.

So even though Oliver did not break any laws, council’s response was to enforce a bylaw to limit his behaviour because they didn’t like it.

This should make you very angry. It is, in my opinion, an abuse of power. Sure you don’t own a snake or like snakes or care about snakes, but what’s going to happen to you the next time you do something of which some town councillors disapprove?

Are they going to legislate your behaviour until it is to their liking?

When a large snake is carried by an experienced handler it is under more control than any dog or cat on a leash or in a harness.

Forcing someone to use an escape-proof enclosure (since a snake cannot be controlled by a harness) is overkill and quite expensive.

Although snakes enjoy a warmer environment, an escape-proof enclosure if not custom made and would most likely prove a hazard to the health of the animal. The same baking effect you get when leaving a pet in a car would occur in an escape-proof pet carrier on a hot day.

So while the bylaw supporters present the enclosure as a reasonable solution, it is essentially a hurdle that most exotic pet owners could not overcome.

I was quoted as saying in the Truro Daily News, “The rule of the law is being applied to the minority. It’s ridiculous.”

I did say this and I misspoke. I think the rule of law should apply to everyone equally.

The thought that I was trying to express was that legislation should never be enacted to suppress a minority viewpoint. The full power of the town’s resources has been brought to bear against one individual who holds an unpopular pet choice. This is wrong. It’s a bully move.

While a bylaw against an unpopular pet choice may not seem like a big deal to some, it’s the mentality behind the decision that should worry the residents of Truro. Who is going to stand up for you when it is your opinion or choice that is in the minority?

We should all try to stick up for the little guy sometime. Oliver and other exotic pet owners should not be held responsible for the fears of others.

David Watters is a resident of Truro.

Organizations: Truro Town Council, Truro Daily News

Geographic location: Truro

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Recent comments

  • Tim
    July 16, 2013 - 09:07

    I agree 100%. I own several lizards (none of whom possess any teeth), and I find this by law ridiculous. My lizards enjoy going outside in my yard and going for the odd walk. I've only ever received positive feedback from people, anything from wanting to interact with them by touching and taking pictures, to just a nod and a smile. They're completely harmless. However, it's fine and dandy for an owner of an aggressive breed of dog to gallivant around town. I just don't understand this town. It's like we're going back in time instead of looking to the future. Exotic pets are becoming almost as common as your dog or cat.

  • Thomas Kirby
    July 12, 2013 - 12:27

    It's just wrong to keep making it a crime to do things that displease a few people. The problem is too many laws and too much law enforcement.