No concern over welfare of escaped pet boa constrictor
Earlier this month, a pet boa constrictor was thought to have escaped the owners’ residence in Westboro, Ottawa.
While media reported on the incident, their focus was on the threat this snake might pose to community safety. No one asked any questions about the welfare of the snake or whether its escape could have harmful effects on native wildlife species.
Our executive director, Josey Kitson said:
“Sadly, incidences of exotic pets escaping or being dumped back into the “wild” are more common than we think. The captivity of wild animals as pets, like boa constrictors, causes suffering, abuse and even death, despite the owners’ best intentions.
We know that many exotic pet owners love their animals and want to give them the best life possible, but most are simply not equipped to provide wild animals with the care necessary to fulfill all their intrinsic needs. We urge animal lovers to remember that animals like snakes and other wild animals are not pets and they’re not entertainers; they are wild animals with distinct welfare needs.”
Alert issued to the community
Local bylaw officers issued an alert when the snake was reported missing, but they weren’t certain if there was a bylaw violation. Ottawa bylaw prohibit snakes over two meters long to be kept as pets.
The owner claimed that the snake was 1.5 meters long, but the bylaw officers will need to see the snake to verify and have not commented since the snake was found in the owners’ residence.
The keeping of exotic pets is regulated by a patchwork of different municipal bylaws and provincial regulations across the country. Most are put in place to address a local problem or in response to an incident related to keeping the public safe, however they do not adequately address welfare concerns.