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Old 01-19-03, 08:19 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Question: Ethics in the reptile business

Ok Folks,

I have a question.Lately I have pondered on this, though it has been on my mind for a long time. Why are people "respected" in this Industry when they sell sick animals, misrepresent animals, give poor customer service and ship poorly?

I have seen, and heard of and talked to people that often took really bad care of their snakes and lizards, yet were respected in the herp community as a whole. I dont get it, not at all,.
I have seen people, with established businesses and nice websites, sell *wild caught* ball pythons as captive bred babies for three times the amount.And had customers rant and rave about the quality they received from that same vendor.
I dont get it......
I have seen Pet Shop owners, maintaining their snakes in DEPLORABLE conditions, with old urates in the cages, dried feces, filthy water bowls(Or no water bowls at all and dessicated snakes as a result) And these same shops harbored literally DOZENS of mites per snake, around the orbit of the eyes, everywhere.....

Yet...these same shop owners post pictures on servers, boast of their latest breeding accomplishments and even organize and run herp societies, and shows.
I dont get it...........

At what point do shop owners, breeders, and show organizers finally become *responsible* for their animals and business practices? Anybody can make a mistake, but I am not talking about 1 isolated incident ,I am talking about a way of doing business that is masked in goodness, but in reality is as bad as the worst wholesaler/importer-with snakes dieing and sick and full of mites...and all this masked in their reputation or connections. Politics......plain and simple. I am from the U.S.A., but this law applies everywhere.

I just dont understand how people can function on this level and still do so well in this business.Is it truly "Quantity" over "Quality"?
Does the public have such a short memory or are they so blind that they dont see the connection between what is being said by these people and what they actually practice in real their homes, with their animals, at their shops at their warehouses?

Any answers?


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Old 01-19-03, 08:58 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Money talks.
It's the same in Canada as it is in the US. Some places are around despite constant poor care of animals. Often it's because they support certain things that wouldn't get the financial help otherwise. Sometimes people just pass stuff off as rumors.

I won't name names, but I've experienced/heard of a lot of crap of some Canadian vendors, but people still kiss their butts like it's gold. And you're right, it's politics and money.

I just stay away...
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Old 01-19-03, 09:02 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Great topic, Fred!
One hypothesis I have regarding this particular subject is that people purchasing animals from these breeders/dealers hear a couple of good things about them and automatically assume they do good business and practice good husbandry without ever really looking into it further...I mean, how many people, when they decide to purchase a reptile, actually ask to see the breeder/dealer's facility? I know this isn't always possible, like when acquiring animals from across the country...but it's always good practice to know if the animals you're buying were kept well...
When people buy dogs from reputable breeder, they are encouraged to visit the breeder's home and see the conditions in which the animals are kept...and this practice isn't limited to dogs, even fancy rat breeders suggest that one should always inspect the husbandry practices of the breeder before you buy the animal...
I have yet to hear this sort of advice offered in herpetocultural circles...Most people never see the facilities in which their animals are born and raised, they either purchase the animal at an expo, or have it shipped, or arrange to meet the breeder at a different location...So, when they get this animal, and it thrives in their care, they assume that the breeder/dealer was keeping it well...but just because the animal thrives under someone else's care and doesn't show any signs of disease or mistreatment doesn't mean that it wasn't kept in a feces ridden cage with dirty we all know, reptiles take longer to develop "symptoms of bad husbandry" than their mammalian cousins....
The people who get a "raw deal" and end up with a diseased animal from such a breeder (which may very well be an infrequent occurence despite deplorable conditions) don't always tell many others about their bad experience with that breeder...
Sometimes, when they do try to offer their opinion, they are quickly and efficiently shot down (and verbally attacked) by that breeder's many staunch supporters, many of whom haven't necessarily had business dealings with the breeder themselves, but are backing this breeder because they happen to be aquaintances or partners, or have heard the glowing reviews and refuse to believe there might be a less than perfect facet to their practices (Here's where the politics come in!)...
I have seen this first hand on a number of occasions in public reptile forums (even this one)...
So, that's my 2 cents...
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Old 01-19-03, 11:17 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Its like any business, you're going to have good apples and bad apples and apples that look good but are rotten at the core.
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Old 01-20-03, 09:55 AM   #5 (permalink)
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one of the things that really disappoints me is when people complain about certain vendors, breeders or stores yet they lack the integrity to boycott them

if you don't like what you see and experience don't go back...don't put more money into the wrong people's pockets
if enough people have the fortitude to stand by their convictions then these bad apples will rot away to nothing
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Old 01-20-03, 10:35 AM   #6 (permalink)
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Amen, Silke

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Old 01-20-03, 10:59 AM   #7 (permalink)
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It cuts both I once mentioned on another forum, some people will be yes-men and back someone up solely because they're friends, or because they're hoping for a kickback in the form of better deals or access to coveted items/events, while others will slag someone just because they don't like them, and all these things carry weight, maybe more than they should.

Throw the online world into the mix, where people can go off half-cocked or display belligerence that only the distance and relative anonymity of the internet affords them....and you have misinformation, rumours and half-truths, coupled with shouting matches and popularity contests. All opinion and zero fact to back it up. It's sad, because it hurts the hobby, creates unnecessary rifts, and sometimes the wrong people profit from it.

Personally, I don't see the point of asking for testimonials on the Web, I'd rather see for myself and bypass the popularity contest.

I have a cynical outlook about this and it's a somewhat unpopular stance. It often rubs people the wrong way and I know it, mostly from all the stuff people think doesn't get back to me.

The point is, don't take anyone's word (including mine) for things. Go see for yourself, think critically, don't turn a blind eye. Luckily, there are some excellent breeders and retailers in Ontario for us all to choose from. On the whole, there are some great people in herps, and I believe that as much as some things stay the same, others will only get better.
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Old 01-20-03, 11:28 AM   #8 (permalink)
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The glass is half empty

Ethics in the reptile industry? With every year that passes I lose more faith that such a thing even exists. It seems just when you think you have found someone that is halfway deserving of the label "respectable [breeder/dealer/keeper]", something rears its ugly face. Its such a shame that this industry seems to attract such people - and that these innocent, amazing animals suffer under them. The competition, the money, the "status" - they want it all and its all at the expense of the animals. These animals don't deserve to be exploited, they shouldn't be viewed as a commodity, they are lives - unfortunately not enough people share my opinion......
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Old 01-20-03, 01:06 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Linds that was a good post.

It is sick because certain breeders and dealers and what not seem to feel like there is some sort of popularity contest to see who has that "status" but in reality that "status" of look how big my store is, look what I got to breed before anyone else, is a status in a group of people who keep reptiles, and the rest of the world could care less. *L* And its something so stupid that animals sometimes suffer for, and people argue about, and they way they treat others who don't have their "status". Taking sides because someone bred a lizard before someone else or a snake...haha its stupid....I'll start being chummy and butt kiss like when I see someone post that they bred, laid and hatched a clutch of snake eggs without a snakes help, and on their own. *LOL*

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Old 01-20-03, 03:06 PM   #10 (permalink)
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It is unfortunate to say the least, and it is in any animal breeding. We went out of town once about ten, eleven years back to buy another Dalmatian when we were keeping them. I would have thought the man was great, his facilities wonderful and clean. Had I not seen the conditions of his non-Dalmatian animals. There were like seven baby Beagles in a little rabbit hutch with a board down over one side of the wire floor for them to lay on, about four or five feet above the ground. ANd countless other things wrong with other dogs. We brought one of the beagles when we had not really intended on two more dogs, cuz we felt sorry for them. It stayed very small, the size of a newborn pup for the six months that it lived.

Not only is it true that you cant trust people's word online, but it is so easy to fake all this good praise. Make a few IDs on a message board and post some good praise for yourself. And for some reason people get fanatical about the people they buy their reptiles from. They get one good deal and swear that this is the best breeder in the world, when they only bought once from them, over the internet and never spoke even on the phone with them much less saw their facilities.

It also goes the same with bad reviews on someone. Someone has a bad experience, or doesnt fulfill their end of a deal, and could even be to their own fault, who knows, and talks down a breeder unfairly. YOu never know the situation if you do not KNOW the parties involved.

But you know, it isnt just animals. Anything where any lives are involved, human or animal, there are no ethics no matter how much they say there are. People dying in ER's after waiting six hours to get in to a see doctor, being denied treatment for lack of insurance, and even if you have insurance, something i am dealing with right now, they want you to pay ahead for some services so I am having to put off my daughter's dental appt. until I and my insurance can pay up front. It is sad. No life is sacred anymore.

Thanks for depressing me, Fred, lol

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Old 01-20-03, 04:13 PM   #11 (permalink)
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My way of doing things is this: I dont buy from pet stores, except crickets from a store that doesnt deal in reptiles. I have personally seen almost all of the peoples setups, animals that i have bought from. I dont deal with anyone who intentionally buys wildcaughts for the sole purpose to re-sell, i am totally against taking them from the wild just to make a few bucks. Its too bad there are people out there that dont seen to care about their animals (*cough*creatures).

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Old 01-20-03, 10:49 PM   #12 (permalink)
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youkai, good post. maybe its time to name and shame these sh*thole "breeders" for what they more than two bit importers covering over the craks in their knowledge and respect for all animals. alot of ppl here seem to get god worth for having a gold trophy next to their name...why? does it mean that an independent ajudicator has vetted them? that these ppl can spout crap and every schlub believs it????
now i'm not saying that every trophy person is full of sh*t, just some
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Old 01-21-03, 11:01 AM   #13 (permalink)
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Note some of us trophy holders just want to help support Jeff and this site and for the amount it cost it is money well spent in my books

But yes Paul if somthing is aloof we should speak up and name names

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Old 01-21-03, 10:10 PM   #14 (permalink)
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not wanting to sound like a big headed boaster, but i was lucky enough to meet richard ross (senior author of the good book, captive reproductive husbandry of boas and python) and he is so fed up with the commercialisation of reptile "keeping" that he is now authoring books on freshwater stingrays. says alot to me when a true pioneer of this 'hobby' can be so disgusted with whats gong on that he turns to fish....................BLOODY FISH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
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Old 01-22-03, 03:41 AM   #15 (permalink)
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My theory is this...

Most people start out small, as an interest or hobby, go into business, and have the best intentions.

Not all, I grant you - but I'm thinking of people I actually know, here.

And then, it grows. And grows. And if they're really good, knowledgeable or just plain lucky, grows some more.

At some point, without them realising, the balance tips from caring for each animal, to having a wall of merchandise - the sort of merchandise that does need the odd mouse chucking in, and a bit of a clean out now and then, but the sort of merchandise that doesn't wail if it isn't looked after properly, and doesn't appear sick until far too late...

And it can be too late for the business by then.

I see it in all sorts of industries, not just animals, and it's a case of 'not seeing the wood for the trees', or 'biting off more than you can chew', take you pick of metaphor.

It's just that it's sickening when it is animals, and I'm completely with Linds on this one - it's a life, and one that we humans have chosen to take responsibility for, whether by breeding it, or by taking it from the wild.

Some people just need to take more responsibility...

Just my two-pence!
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