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Not so fast on a ban on pet boa constrictors


Published: Sun, August 27, 2017 @ 12:00 a.m.

Not so fast on a ban on pet boa constrictors

I agree with Jennifer O’Connor of PETA (Letter of Aug. 20) that many pet reptiles are purchased as novelty or conversation pieces, later to be abandoned or neglected. I also agree that there is potential for the transmission of disease to humans and that attacks on humans might occur.

I strongly disagree that there should be wholesale bans, based on discriminatory profiling. All of her concerns apply equally to dogs, cats, horses and many other living beings kept as pets.

The focus of her letter is the Ohio woman who was bitten by her 5-foot boa last month. Her 911 call, as reported by the Washington Post, went as follows: “Oh please. I have a boa constrictor stuck to my – my face. He has a hold of my nose.” She added that it wasn’t cutting off her breathing or circulation.

First, although a boa is a constrictor, it isn’t aggressive by nature. Even the larger python constrictor (up to 30 feet) isn’t as likely to strike or kill as are many dogs that are commonly held as pets. The Associated Press reported June 10, 2010, that a man in Omaha was strangled by his 9-foot boa. “The Humane Society of the United States says at least 13 people have been killed in the U.S. by pet pythons … since 1980.

By comparison, in 2016 alone there were 41 dog bite-related deaths in the U.S., and the three dog breeds most likely to bite are the beloved dachshund, chihuahua and Jack Russell terrier.

In 2012, Zanesville made international news when the owner of 56 animals that included tigers, bears, lions, wolves and a baboon freed them and then killed himself. This spurred the Ohio Legislature to enact one of the most restrictive and comprehensive exotic animal statutes in the U.S.

Even dangerous wild animals and restricted snakes can be owned, but only with a permit, and only if the applicant complies with strict requirements for financial responsibility, escape plans, safe housing and inspections. Municipal ordinances are specifically permitted to be more stringent.

Animal shelters are especially careful to make certain that animals are surrendered to them are adopted out to only those applicants who have been properly vetted for suitable ownership.

A boa might strike some as a rather odd, eccentric pet, but I will take the love and nurturing of any living being, and the teaching of the importance of those qualities to children, wherever I can get it.

Gary Pilcher, Vienna Gary Pilcher is executive director of the Animal Welfare League of Trumbull County.

Hatred is our real enemy

What happened in Charlottesville on Aug. 12 is not a surprise. Steve Bannon was an adviser in the White House. He also has past ties with the alt-right movement.

The alt-right movement seems to think that other ethnic groups are to blame for their poor economic situation. This could not be further from the truth. If the alt-right thinks African-Americans should go back to Africa, Hispanics to Mexico and South America, and Asians back to Asia, then they themselves should go back to Europe where they came from.

Native Americans are the original ethnic group of this country. They kept the water clean, the air pure and took care of the land. Europeans came here looking for a new land. Instead of sharing the land with Native Americans, in the name of Christianity, they slaughtered them, stole the land and put the remaining few onto reservations where many now live in poverty.

They brought Africans in to use as slaves and Asians were brought in to build the railroads giving them virtually no pay and when done with them sent them back to Asia.

No ethnic group put Americans in a poor economic status. The 1 percent, who are mostly whites of European descent, did that and continue to do so. The 1 percent happens to include Donald Trump.

Hatred and bigotry have no place in this country. As Americans, we must be united, not divided. A country is much easier to conquer when divided and in chaos. Our enemies are Russia, China and North Korea. If we are enemies to each other we will not survive as a country.

Robert W. McKay, Grove City, Pa.

Virginia victim depicts America’s exceptionalism

As an American citizen, I truly believe that for 241 years the United States of America – despite all of its problems and faults – has always been a great nation and an exceptional nation. We have exceptional citizens tolerant of other Americans regardless of their race, creed, color, sex or religion.

Heather Heyer, the political activist killed in protest in Charlottesvillle, Va., earlier this month, was an example of this exceptionalism.

But as an American citizen, I believe the United States cannot continue to be a great or exceptional nation if its citizens no longer wish to be welcoming, tolerant and truly exceptional to the world.

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. once said “if you are cut down in a movement that is designed to save the soul of a nation, then no other death could be more redemptive.”

Heather Heyer died for the soul of a great nation and its exceptionalism.

Willie James Richards, Youngstown


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