New legislation introduced by the provincial government is addressing inadequate regulation and enforcement of exotic animals.
Executive Director Dr. Susan Shafer of Canada’s Accredited Zoos and Aquariums is applauding the new law.
“We think it provides a very good balance between safety for the public and the staff that work in organizations as well as being very strong for animal welfare,” says Dr. Shafer.
This new legislation is the result of work by the Exotic Animal Task Force, which produced 29 recommendations in 2015 after the death of Noah and Connor Barthe, brothers, in Campbellton two years prior.
Dr. Shafer says if anything positive can be said to come out of the tragedy in Campbellton, it is that the public and government turned their attention to this issue.
“What we find is that there are so many other priorities, animals often don’t become a priority for governments, unless there is a threat to public safety, the animals are really kind of low on the list,” says Dr. Shafer.
She goes on to say they aren’t trying to ban ownership of pets, exotic or not, but they want to ensure people who are looking into becoming pet owners are aware of all the potential challenges they may face and will ensure the safety of themselves, their families, and their pets.
“People have to be aware of what it is that they’re bringing into their home, and we’re starting to see that,” says Dr. Shafer. “The Humane Societies are starting to see a lot with the popular little pigs that people are adopting, and then finding out that they’re not so little and no so easy to look after.”
Energy and Resource Development Minister Rick Doucet says the proposed act applies to wildlife not native to New Brunswick.
He adds the definition of exotic animal will include certain fish, wildlife and invertebrates such as scorpions and spiders, and the proposed legislation will regulate the import, possession, sale, public display, propagation, export and release of exotic animals.
Animals not permitted in New Brunswick are banned for one or more of the following reasons: they are a risk to human health; they are a risk to public safety; or they pose a risk to native species of the habitat of a native species, says Doucet.