Dangerous Exotic Cats? Why Exotic Pets Aren’t Dangerous
Dangerous Exotic Cats? Why Exotic Pets Aren’t Dangerous . I would want to respond to some of the remarks that I have discovered on the internet as well as in proposed legislation that characterize servals and other tiny wild felines as being creatures that are prone to acting erratically and dangerously. This is a textbook example of the adage “what you don’t know will scare you.” To begin, I would like to make it perfectly clear to everyone that when we talk about domesticated pets bred in the United States, we are referring to animals that have been domesticated and reared by hand from an early age. It’s not like you go to Africa, catch a serval with a rope, and then pull it back to your house as it hisses and spits at you!
Expert in security and threat analysis Gavin de Becker wrote in his best-selling book Fear Less: “Unfortunately, when it comes to security, the American method has frequently been to establish processes that are more pertinent to assuaging public concern than they are to lowering risk.” Laws that restrict certain behaviors may help alleviate people’s anxieties, but they do nothing to make the country safer as a whole.
People reveal their lack of knowledge regarding animal behavior when they make statements such as “very unpredictable and deadly beasts” in reference to domesticated wild cats. These assertions are a gross overstatement of the actual circumstances. Even wild animals that are free to wander in their natural environments do not act in a way that is either harmful or unexpected. Every species of animal exhibits characteristics of behavior that are unique to that species. The owners of such animals in captivity are able to understand and comprehend these actions, particularly because they are quite similar to the habits of a domestic cat.
These behaviors are not that dissimilar to those of animals that have been tamed. For instance, the sequence of behaviors that develop as a result of natural selection is almost exactly the same in wolves as in domestic dogs. A domestic dog that has not been properly socialized and is owned by someone who is either irresponsible or ignorant might be far more “dangerous” than a serval or caracal.
It would appear that the domestic dog is the gold standard for a harmless and charming pet predator in our culture. However, even animals that are considered to be man’s greatest friend have been known to cause humans harm and even death on occasion. According to the statistics, there are between two and five million dog attacks reported each year. In point of fact, throughout the five years spanning from 1989 to 1994, domestic dogs were responsible for the deaths of 45 children. Why doesn’t this disheartening number shake us to our core more?
It’s possible that it has anything to do with the fact that over the same period of time, people were responsible for the deaths of an estimated 4,605 children (Lindsay, Handbook of Applied Dog Behavior and Training). Every day, around five children lose their lives as a result of neglect, abuse, or homicide related to child abuse (U.S. Advisory Board on Child Abuse and Neglect, 1995).
To put this into even better perspective, let’s think about the fact that despite the enormous number of dog bites that occur annually and the number of fatalities that are caused by dog bites, according to the statistics, a child is statistically safer when they are in the company of the typical pet dog than when they are with their own family. The number of children who are killed each year by their own parents or guardians is far more than the number of individuals who are killed by dogs. We, the human race, are the most unpredictable and potentially lethal animal that exists on this planet.
Do you think I’m suggesting that servals and other exotic cats don’t pose a threat? If we understand “dangerous” to mean that anything has the capacity to harm a human being, then the answer is no. Every species of animal, as well as every human, have the potential to cause harm. One thing that I educate the people who come to me for advice on their dog’s behavior is that every dog has the capacity to bite. If they are put in the wrong circumstance, they will respond aggressively, just as even the most benign of people are capable of acting violently when they are provoked to the appropriate level.
On the other hand, there is no way to say for definite that these cats are fundamentally more hazardous than a domestic dog of a size equal to them. There has never been a story of a serval being responsible for the death of a human being, and their owners are often quite responsible when it comes to keeping them under control. In point of fact, they are probably safer than domestic dogs.
It is impossible to say if a dog, a human, or an exotic cat will hurt someone in the long run because of the complex interplay of their genes, their personalities, their environments, and the specific situations in which they find themselves.
One example of an activity that involves animals but is far more dangerous is horseback riding. In point of fact, a great number of stables and equestrian event centers have signs up advising customers that engaging in activities involving horses is fundamentally risky. The National Center for Health Statistics reports that during the years 1983 and 1994, a total of 1218 persons lost their lives while riding animals.
It is not unheard of for horses to attack their owners or other individuals who enter their pastures with such viciousness that they even take human lives. It just takes one kick from a horse to bring life-threatening injuries or even death. Horses are so powerful that even the strongest human would have little chance of restraining one if it was set on escaping from its confines and wanted to do so badly enough. They run away when they are scared, which makes it easy for one of them to get run over and die. However, even now, many young people enjoy participating in horseback riding competitions.
Why do the 1200 pound horse and the 100 pound Great Dane belonging to the neighbor not strike the same level of terror as the cougar? My theory is that there are two forces at play here: fear of the unknown and fear of potential danger. Fear of being devoured by a wild animal, or becoming the prey rather than the hunter, is one of the most fundamental anxieties that plagues the human race. Officers have reported that police canine units are so efficient in subduing violent persons that offenders are frequently more terrified of a dog than a pistol. This is because police canine units are so good in subduing violent individuals. Offenders are more prepared to risk death than a bite from a German Shepherd that does not result in fatal injuries.
We are well acquainted with horses and dogs because we have coexisted with them for several centuries, observed them on television, read warm and fuzzy stories about them, and consider them to be companion animals and working animals, respectively. We consider it a strange occurrence whenever one of them attacks or kills one of us.
The majority of us have only been exposed to exotic cats through nature shows that emphasize their lethal potential and the occasional sensational news article that announces the mauling of some unfortunate zoo employee. This means that we have a limited amount of firsthand knowledge about these animals. When all the factors are considered, it should not come as a shock that people have an irrationally high level of dread of these creatures.
The words “it is almost impossible for an exotic animal to adapt to traditional household settings” and “exotic animals are by nature wild and dangerous and do not adjust well to captivity” were included in the legislation that was proposed to ban exotic animals in Oregon but ultimately did not pass. Both of these assertions are false due to the fact that there are many thousands of instances of exotic companion animals enjoying full lives in the homes of Americans across the country.
I would challenge anyone who truly believes those words to watch as my serval, Sirocco, greets me with ecstatic purring and rubs against my legs when I come home from work, and then to watch as he curls up beside me purring and licking my face while we watch a movie together. I would challenge anyone who truly believes those words to watch as my serval, Sirocco, greets me with ecstatic purring and rubs against my legs when I come home This happens rather frequently; in fact, it is representative of the experiences of the vast majority of people who keep exotic cats. This cat is a part of my family in the same way that domestic dogs and cats that you may have had and loved were members of your own family.
“This 2003 Act being required for the immediate preservation of the public peace, health, and safety, an emergency is proclaimed to exist,” was included into the legislation that did not pass in Oregon and was HB 3065. There is no urgent situation. Make it your mission to unearth any proof that the ownership of exotic animals is contributing to a problem in public health or safety. I can give you my word that you won’t discover any. It is widely thought that no members of the general public in the United States have been murdered by stray exotic cats in the previous ten years. This applies to the whole country. This includes not just the smaller felines such as servals, caracals, and bobcats, but also the larger felines such as lions, tigers, and cougars.
Now turn your attention to the amount of death and devastation that has been caused by drunk drivers, people who have violated the terms of their parole, sloppy building contractors, and even Catholic priests. Shouldn’t the resources that we as a nation put into ensuring public safety be focused on the actual dangers that exist, rather than discriminating against the lawful and safe pursuits of its citizens?
These legislation constitute unnecessary repetition. There are existing laws that have been enacted, and they provide for the criminal punishment of those whose activities (and the conduct of their animals) irresponsibly harm the general public. Our legal system currently provides a mechanism that is more than sufficient to penalize those whose animals damage or otherwise disturb members of the public and to offer reparation to anyone who have been injured as a result of the animals’ actions. The fact that there have been so few occurrences involving exotic animals demonstrates that the restrictions that are now in place are working well.
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