WHAT DO YOU THINK?: Exotic Pet Debate Heats Up in Salem

WHAT DO YOU THINK?: Exotic Pet Debate Heats Up in Salem

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The exotic pet debate heated up in Salem Thursday. Law makers are considering making it illegal for Oregonians to keep wild animals as pets.

Oregon is one of 22 states that lets private citizens own wild animals like lions, bears, monkeys and some exotic reptiles, but that could change with a bill being heard in Salem.

"Why are we bringing those animals in? Is it for the animal's sake or is it for our own?" questions Bill Templeman with the Southern Oregon Humane Society.

Some states are revisiting exotic animal laws after a chimpanzee attack in Connecticut. Those who support state restrictions say Oregon's laws are too lax.

"There's not only for the safety of the people involved, but there's also the animals. You know, a chimpanzee in the wild does not live in a home," says Templeman.

Southern Oregon Humane Society is not actively supporting bans, but at the state and national level the Humane Society is.

"We believe in respecting all life and treating all life in a humane way. And that said, we do not necessarily think it's humane to bring an animal out of its natural environment," says Templeman.

He says staggering numbers of animals are put down each year because people can't take care of them like they thought they could.

"We don't believe we've done a good enough job taking care of the animals we've domesticated already, of dogs and cats," he says.

Templeman spends most of his time looking for homes for these abandoned dogs and cats. He says they're not set up to help save exotic animals.

"Sometimes we get calls from with reptiles like they got an alligator when it's really small and now it's not so small and they say ‘what do I do?  I don't want this anymore.'"

Bottom line, Templeman says wild animals are just that: wild.  He says they're not fit for most homes.

"It's very difficult to domesticate a wild animal. It takes many generations of looking for the right personalities and the right traits," he says.

Lawmakers heard from the public Thursday. The senate bill will have to be considered in a work session before it can be voted on and so far no work session is scheduled.


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