With the recent controversy regarding sloths and a “man”-hunt for a missing presumed to be someone’s escaped pet Lynx, you might ask whether we were on an island off the coast of South America instead of off coast of the Northeastern Contiguous United States. And with all the discussions regarding animals, their treatment and what is legal, many are asking why laws in New York and enforcement seem to be so relaxed compared to our stance on plastic straws and pronouns.
There seems to be a serious oversight when it comes to protecting animal welfare in a state where one would suspect stricter laws on the subject. That is not to say the law should become overly restrictive or burdensome to legitimate commercial interests that do not endanger animal welfare, but enforcement of existing statutes and the modernization of existing statutes should be paramount on the legislative agenda.
Take the instance of the pet Lynx. If anything, it reminds us that the illegal animal trade is alive and well. Probe your extended family and friends and it is surprising easy to find someone with an exotic animal throughout the Empire State. A discussion with animal law enforcement officers will yield dozens of examples of bears, alligators, crocodiles and galore kept in conditions inconsistent with animal welfare.
However, enforcement is difficult when violations are typically misdemeanors and easy to escape. Even legal ventures, such as sloth encounters per say, while consistent with New York State law, are they what is best for the animal’s wellbeing – an animal that is mostly nocturnal being pet, fed, and handled daily?
While animals cannot speak for themselves, it does not take Dr. Dolittle to understand animal welfare or a tree hugger to care for their wellbeing.
We therefore call on our state lawmakers to independently investigate these existing state law on exotic wildlife for themselves and talk to relevant stakeholders in the conversation on animal welfare. You’ll find respected members of the law enforcement community feeling frustrated with the status quo.
You’ll find a not so underground industry rearing its ugly head in our communities unfazed by their actions and emboldened by inaction.