Here is the letter I sent to the province
Dear Mr. Spencer
I have a few things I would like to point out in regards to your article on the exotic animal bylaw in Surrey. Firstly reptiles do not "live and die in basements". A basement is not a good place to keep a reptile for one. It is dark and cold. I keep many reptiles in many rooms of my house but not one in the basement. Second I have been keeping reptiles as pets for about 7 years now and in that time I have only had one die. Mind you those are pets. I also do rescue and adoption work and unfortunatly I have had a few of those die. Nobody is denying a problem exisits but it exists with pet s in general. Dogs and cats in the droves are euthanized every year because of irresponsible and ignorant *people*. Animals do not abuse themselves you know. If we take away certain animals those people will not stop, they will move on to another animal. As far as restricting reptile sales go we as reptile keepers and even breeders and stores are ok with this but within reason. Richmond's brand new bylaw is commendable. It specifically targets stores and problem animals. People often buy on impulse in stores and we want to keep certain animals out of easy access in these stores. Iguanas for example grow to be 4-6 feet long as adults and most people dont even realize it. If we keep them out of the stores people will have to do a little more work to get them and find out before hand what their care needs are. The surrey bylaw will mean nobody can sell, trade or even give away any reptile in the city. That is ridiculous. What about people who live in Surrey who run adoption centers? What will they do? What about pet keepers? Where will they buy reptile food and supplies at a decent price? Stores won't care to sell those items if they don't sell the animal. Then yes there are breeders, people who sell reptile food and products and stores. Not all are perfect but just because they make money in a business centered around reptiles doesn't make them scum bag animal abusers. Reptiles are not new or a fad. They have been kept for a very long time and they are not going anywhere. Except for a rare few types of reptile most types available as pets have been bred and hand raised by people. Cornsnakes have been bred so long they have designer colours through genetic selection in breeding programs. Reptiles have no families they have been taken from in the wild like poor little Nemo. To most of them humans are what passes for family and truthfully they don't do the family thing. Most mama lizards would eat their young if they happened across them after they hatch.
Reptiles are pets to us. They may be in "cages" (which can be large and spacious and include plants to create a jungle) but what is a fence if not a cage to a dog? And is it really a good thing that people let their cats run wild? I have had an iguana come from her favorite spot by the window up onto the arm of my chair and keep me company while I watch TV. I have seen an iguana mope because its owner is away. I have seen a python follow its owners tracks through the grass when there were plenty of other people around. I have sat stroking my iguana after spending $1000 on a surgery hoping that she would wake up because I would be lost without her. I have seen people cuddle with snakes. Some people like dogs and some don't. Its the same with reptiles. We like them. Why do we have to always be afraid someone will come and make a law to take them away? More reptile owners crack books on caring for their animals than dog and cat owners. More dogs and cats get abused, abandoned or neglected. More dogs and cats cause serious injury to human persons and property than reptiles. More dogs and cats run loose. Reptiles don't break noise bylaws or poop in your garden. They don't need off leash parks. Why are they targets? The answer: these people who try to persuade cities to make these bylaws are extremists. They really want no animal to be a pet. Its too hard to target cats and dogs now though so they go after reptiles. Once the precedent has been set though, you can bet dogs and cats will be next!
Reptiles are not wild or exotic. They are animals. Cat, dog, reptile--they all behave according to instinct and learning. If you throw food to a cat and never touch it, it will grow to be wild and untame. The same goes for a reptile. People must be educated to properly socialize reptiles. And even when properly socialized they will react with instinct. A dog might snap at you if you try to touch its food, or if its injured. Same as a reptile might. They are really not so different as pets--people just fear what they do not understand.
Pitt MEadows BC
By the way Gail Watson is no breeder. He is a sweet old man who has been doing reptile education for decades. He takes all his free time and goes to schools, kids groups, libraries, special needs kids camps, SPCA camps and on and on and on. He does so many I often worry he will give him self a heart attack from the effort. He deserves some kind of community award or something and you made him out sounding like a self interested breeder, even if that was not your intent. Instead of writing an article like today's why not do a story on him. It would be much more interesting and positive in this world of negativity.
"I love the smell of Iguanas in the morning!"