Exotic Challenges
By Jennifer Boncy
June 3, 2010

When I began working on our July cover story on exotic pets, I quickly discovered that I could fill an entire issue about the challenges facing retailers in this segment of the market right now—at least, if I was to write about the regulatory challenges facing the pet industry at the moment. And I would have felt negligent to write about exotic pets and NOT mention the legal issues they face.

The problem is that the regulation of the exotic pet trade is a jigsaw puzzle of an issue. There are just too many pieces to tackle all at once. It’s difficult to tell the whole story in one article in one issue—or one blog. The scene changes from state to state, each one having its own ecosystem to protect, its own environmental health at stake. Also putting their two cents in are several interest groups from PETA to environmental activist orgs with varying degrees of legislative influence and various focuses and concerns. Congress is making moves in this arena, as well, as some lawmakers seek to impose national restrictions on certain species.

Seems like, now more than ever, it’s important that the pet industry has its own champions. With so much at stake for so many exotic pet shop owners and responsible animal lovers, its crucial that the industry gets the advocacy it deserve. It’s equally important that the industry be self-governing and reflective, and responsible and responsive when a problem stemming from the trade arises. PIJAC (www.pijac.org) has been at the forefront of these issues and admirably so, say many. And hopefully, the organization won’t stand alone in its vigilance. It’s a dialogue that needs to remain open and include as many in the industry as possible.