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For Immediate Release: 06/10/09

Oregon House passes bill to phase out keeping wild animals as pets

Salem, OR — Born Free USA, The Humane Society of the United States, and the Oregon Humane Society (OHS) applaud the Oregon House of Representatives for passing legislation to prohibit the keeping of certain wild animals as pets. The bill, S.B. 391, passed the House Wednesday by a vote of 43 to 15. It was approved by the state Senate in March. The bill returns to the Senate for a final vote before being sent to Gov. Ted Kulongoski for his signature.

Introduced by Sens. Mark Hass, D-14, and Brian Boquist, D-23, the bill would prohibit private possession of many wild animals in the state, including alligators, monkeys, lions, tigers and bears. Reps. Vicki Berger, R-20, Scott Bruun, R-37, Bill Garrard, R-56, Mike Schaufler, D-48, Brad Witt, D-31, and Arnie Roblan, D-9, are co-sponsors.

“By their very nature, exotic animals are unpredictable and are incapable of being domesticated or tamed,” said Nicole G. Paquette, senior vice president and general counsel for Born Free USA. “For the safety of Oregon’s citizens, pets and native wildlife the legislature has wisely decided to prohibit dangerous wild and exotic animals from being kept in private hands.”

“This new common-sense law addresses both public safety and animal welfare,” said Scott Beckstead, senior Oregon state director for The HSUS. “Wild animals in captivity can attack, can spread disease and have needs that the average citizen can’t meet. They belong in the wild, not in someone’s basement or backyard.”

“This bill just makes sense,” said Sharon Harmon, OHS executive director. “Wild animals aren't suitable pets and pose grave dangers to human health and safety. Having a wild animal in your home puts both the animal and you at risk of injury or even death.”

Facts:

  • Currently in Oregon a permit is required to possess certain wild animals as pets. S.B. 391 will prohibit future acquisition of these animals and add alligators, crocodiles, and caimans to the list. People who currently have these animals will be able to keep them, but not breed or replace them.
  • At the federal level, U.S. Rep. Earl Blumenauer is the lead author of H.R. 80, the Captive Primate Safety Act, which would ban the interstate commerce in apes, monkeys, and other primates for the pet trade. It would complement state laws on the possession of dangerous exotic animals, since many of these animals are purchased over the Internet and through other interstate instruments. The Captive Primate Safety Act passed the U.S. House of Representatives in February and was approved by the U.S. Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works on May 14. It is now pending in the full Senate.

Previous incidents involving exotic animals in Oregon include:

  • A monkey brought by a man to a Salem park scratched a 6-year-old girl, causing puncture wounds below her eye, in April 2009.
  • A pet alligator escaped from a Gresham home and was found walking along the Springwater Trail in September 2008.
  • The body of a dead three-foot alligator was found in a creek in Douglas County in March 2007.
  • A pet capuchin monkey escaped from an enclosure in Lincoln County in April 2007.
  • A serval (an African wild cat) escaped from a home near Aurora in November 2006. The animal was recaptured only to escape again on the way home.
  • A pet lynx escaped and jumped on a 6-year-old girl's head in Clackamas County in August 2005.

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Contact:
Nicole Paquette, Born Free USA, 916.447.3085 x214, nicole@bornfreeusa.org

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