I opened my morning paper and on the front page, top right corner was a picture of a gecko with the heading: “XMAS exotica-Pet presents don’t have to come wrapped in fur.” – pause – hmmmm….excuse me, what?! Let me think about that for a minute. Ok, now I’m curious and little warning bells are rapidly firing off in my head….So I go to to Section E1 to read on.

A story about buying pets for your kids for Christmas. Oh! the whole family better be on the same page when it comes to committing to something as major as a dog. You don’t want Fido to end up back at the pet store on boxing day. Then it suggests alternatives to dogs – why not look into smaller, easier to care for pets such as snakes, or turtles – or hey! – cute little geckos (!!!). I could go on and on about what this article says but I want to shout about what it doesn’t say.

First- why on earth is this reporter writing about buying puppies, or ANY pet from a pet store? I wish there were no pet stores that actually sold pets. Please, let’s just buy pet food, toys and other supplies – not actual live animals! There are plenty of rescue organizations where one can adopt a beautiful pet. There are rescues for practically any type of “pet” you could want. It has been well documented that many puppies found in pet stores come from puppy mills. So, given that a dog is such a big commitment, she suggests looking into exotics instead ?! What is the Toronto Star thinking? There are tons of articles out there on endangered species, climate change, environmental issues ( the whole world is focused on the Copenhagen Climate Conference right now, for pete’s sake!). Why promote going out and purchasing a turtle or a gecko? Even if the animals mentioned are not endangered- the mere indication of buying an exotic pet makes my head explode. In case the world doesn’t know – there is a thriving illegal pet trade out there. THIS ARTICLE IS NOT HELPING.

So, go buy little Tommy a Western Hog Nosed snake ( PLEASE DON’T! ). It’ll teach him some sense of responsibility ( GIVE HIM A PLANT OR A PAPER ROUTE! ). This poor snake will get handled by people, live out its life in a glass aquarium – no taste of freedom to live in its natural habitat. What if Tommy loses interest in his snake? What then? Back to the pet store? Neglected ? Or worse…!

It appears to me we still have a long way to go to change the way some people see animals and our relationship with them.
It’s news articles like this one that reinforce my sense of purpose and spur me on to try harder to be a voice for these creatures that can’t speak for themselves.
Thanks for listening.

Crikey-ridge tailed monitor-commission for Earth Rangers


© anouk bikkers 2010