Responsible Exotic Animal
REXANO believes that owning exotic and wild animals is a rewarding
experience that brings great joy and happiness to many. With this
privilege comes great responsibility and long-term emotional and
We advise potential exotic and wild animal owners to closely evaluate
their lifestyle before deciding to obtain an exotic animal and to give
careful consideration to what species will best suit them.
REXANO advises potential owners to seek reputable and ethical breeders.
All existing owners should provide proper care, training and
socialization to ensure that their animals remain happy well behaved
members of their family and won’t end up unwanted and spend their life
in already overcrowded sanctuaries.
Exotic animal owners have responsibilities not only to their animal’s welfare,
but also to their neighbors, by keeping them safe by providing proper,
structurally sound containment for their exotic animals.
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The Right to Keep and Enjoy Exotic and Wild
Animals are personal property and we oppose legislation
that restricts the private ownership or use of animals.
The human-animal bond predates history. Since the dawn of civilization,
people have enjoyed the companionship and assistance of animals. All
animals used to be wild before humans domesticated them. Animal
ownership has existed in all cultures, races, climates and economic
situations - by monarchs, kings, monks, nomads, and peasants.
Today, many exotic animals are used as therapy or assistance animals for
war veterans, accident victims and senior citizens in nursing homes.
REXANO strongly supports property rights and endorses the right to own,
keep and breed exotic and wild animals in a responsible and humane
manner. (Back to top of page)
Enforcement of the Animal Welfare Act
The federal Animal Welfare Act, AWA, enforced by the Animal Care (AC)
division of U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), regulates wholesale
breeders, dealers, exhibitors and caretakers of animals.
The AWA requires that minimum standards of care and treatment be
provided for most warm-blooded animals bred for commercial sale, used in
research, transported commercially, or exhibited to the public. This
includes animals exhibited in zoos, circuses, and marine mammal
facilities as well as pets transported on commercial airlines.
The USDA has regularly strengthened the standards for humane care and
treatment of animals regulated under the Act.
REXANO supports increasing the number of USDA enforcement personnel
dealing with wholesale animal operations and strong enforcement of the
requirements of the Animal Welfare Act. (Back to top of
Proper Care and Humane Treatment of Exotic Animals
REXANO believes that all exotic and wild animals should be properly
cared for and kept in clean living conditions, protected from severe
weather elements, and be provided with proper diet and fresh water available at all
We believe many exotic and wild animals, mammals and birds especially,
benefit from human companionship and positive reinforcement training.
Toys and leash walking of mammals provides a much needed exercise and
behavioral enrichment in captive settings. (Back to top
Air Travel for Exotic and Wild Animals
REXANO support training airline personnel regarding the needs of exotic
and wild animals in transport to ensure the safest air travel and
an adequate environment. It is vital for exotic pet owners, breeders, zoos
and exhibitors to be able to safely ship exotic animals for personal
enjoyment as well as propagation of species in captivity.
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REXANO opposes the concept of animal rights (AR), which seeks to end the
captive keeping and use of all animals and seeks to abolish any contact between
humans and animals. Rights come with responsibilities, a concept that
can't be understood by animals. (Back to top of page)
REXANO supports animal welfare (AW) laws that promote responsible use
and seeks to improve living
conditions of captive animals without interfering with the rights of the
owners to choose what they consider to be best for their animal.
We support strong animal abuse and anti-cruelty penalties for those
convicted of cruelty against animals. (Back to top of
REXANO opposes violence committed against commercial and non-commercial
(pet) animal owners, animal handlers, kennels, zoos, circuses and
research facilities by those who object to the keeping and use of
animals. We support the right of all individuals to express personal
opinions in lawful ways.
We support the right of Americans to own, breed, train, transport,
interact with, and exhibit their animals without interference. We oppose
illegal actions such as the "liberation" of animals or destruction of
property. (Back to top of page)
REXANO strongly opposes ban laws against private exotic and wild animal
ownership. Bans and extreme regulation requirements often cause
increases in the number of illegal animals. All incidents/accidents
involving any animal need to be addressed through the existing laws and
regulations in that area. Those regulations and laws need to be
It is unfair to force well cared for exotic and wild animals out of
their loving home, resulting in perfectly legal owners having to choose between
giving up their beloved non-human family member or keep the animal
illegally. The bans also create black market and situation where animals will not get proper
medical care out of owner’s fears of being caught.
If the owner surrenders the newly banned animal, they unwillingly
contribute the number
of homeless animals in need of a new home and put a strain on already
overcrowded and financially strapped rescue centers and sanctuaries.
We support reasonable and fair industry regulations that protect the
public (such as double gate and perimeter fence laws for large
carnivores); however, from the standpoint of government
regulations, exotic animals should be treated the same as the rest of
agriculture or other pet animals.
If the government mandates what kind of fencing you have to use for
exotic animals, then they should mandate what kind of fencing to use for
agriculture or pet animals and have same laws available for all animals at
large, regardless of species.
That is not to say people should keep large carnivores in any old fence,
but that the industry should (and does) provide information on proper
caging, so that people who wish to own these animals have resources
available to do the job right -- just like farmers have resources
available to do their job right.
We support animal welfare laws (not to be confused with animal rights)
that do not restrict the rights of breeders and owners who take their
responsibilities of owning exotic animals seriously.
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Breeding Restrictions, Spaying and Neutering
REXANO believes it is a matter of personal choice for pet owners to spay
or neuter their exotic animals as a responsible means to prevent
accidental breeding resulting in unwanted animals.
REXANO opposes mandatory spay/neuter of animals and opposes exotic
animal breeding bans which is
regulation to extinction. Animals are considered property under US legal system, and
therefore the choice to breed/spay/neuter should be left up to the
We strongly encourage breeders and potential new owners to educate
themselves about commitments and responsibilities before purchasing any
animal to minimize the number of unwanted and homeless animals.
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REXANO supports legal captive breeding of exotic animals. Many animal
species are becoming endangered in the wild and many are near
extinction. Captive breeding, especially in the private sector, has saved many
animals from extinction by providing supply of captive bred animals and
therefore reducing the pressures on wild populations, thus helping to
conserve them in the wild.
We encourage the public to educate themselves about owning an exotic
animal and visit current owners and USDA licensed breeders, and check
references if possible, to see first hand what is involved in exotic
animal ownership. Do not buy on impulse.
REXANO further encourages all breeders and sellers of
such animals to assure themselves, prior to transfer of ownership, that
a potential owner has the experience, training, and facilities needed to
provide proper housing and care in legal, stable and secure
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Responsible Breeding Practices
REXANO believes that responsible exotic animal breeders should give
careful consideration to health issues, temperament, and genetic
screening, as well as to the individual care and placement of the
offspring in responsible homes.
We oppose the breeding of exotic animals without regard for the animals'
welfare. We support enforcement of the federal Animal Welfare Act, and
state and local regulations governing the humane care of animals.
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Protection for Buyers
REXANO believes breeders and/or sellers should be responsible for
providing certain refunds, replacements or reimbursements should the
exotic animal sold become ill or die from a condition contracted prior
to the purchase.
We advise buyers and sellers to keep written record of all transactions
signed by all parties involved, such as veterinary records and clearly
defined sale agreement, to be on hand should complications or
disagreements arise. (Back to top of page)
REXANO supports euthanasia only as a last resort when all reasonable
efforts to place adoptable exotic animals in proper new homes have
failed. In cases of extreme emergencies where the public is at serious
risk and after all other options of control have been utilized
killing an exotic animal should be an option. (Back to
top of page)
Tooth and Claw Removal (declawing and defanging)
REXANO supports the owner's right to decide whether to have performed a claw removal (declawing),
and tooth removal (defanging) when done by licensed veterinarian. It
should remain to be a ‘personal choice’, and a legal option for all animal
owners. (Back to top of page)
Use of Exotic Animals in Research
REXANO recognizes the invaluable contributions to both human and
veterinary medical knowledge that have resulted from medical research on
animal subjects. We believe that non-invasive behavioral and enrichment
research can provide invaluable information and improve practices
related to captive breeding and husbandry of exotic and wild animals.
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Use of Exotic Animals in Zoos, Circuses and
REXANO supports public exhibits of exotic and wild animals. Entertaining
and educational exotic and wild animal shows can spark interest in
conserving them in the wild as well as in captivity. Only through close
personal contact can we really understand and appreciate these wonderful
We will conserve only what we love and we will love only what we
understand. This relationship can not be taught through books only; it
must be experienced in real life. We can never know which child or
exotic pet owner will be our next zoo director, conservationist or
Training of exotic animals for educational school displays, zoo, fair
and circus presentations also provides animals with much needed
enrichment provided exotic animals are properly cared for, humanely
trained, and not pushed beyond reasonable limits. (Back
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"Guardian" vs. Owner
REXANO supports the use of the term "owner" rather than "guardian" when
referring to the keeping of animals. We believe the term guardian
restricts the rights of owners, veterinarians, and government agencies
to protect and care for animals, and possibly subject them to frivolous
and expensive litigation.
The term guardian does nothing to promote more responsible treatment of
exotic animals. We support educating the public about responsible exotic
animal ownership. (Back to top of page)
“Species or Breed Specific” versus
“Dangerous Animal” Control Legislation
REXANO supports reasonable, enforceable, non-discriminatory laws to
regulate the ownership of exotic and wild animals. Animals are property
and the owner is therefore responsible for the actions of his or her
animals, unless the animals were running loose as a result of a
mischief, sabotage or terrorist act by another person.
REXANO believes animal owners should be regulated and punished for the
deeds, and not the breeds or species of their animals. We support a fair
process by which specific animals are identified as "dangerous" based on
stated, measurable actions; not preconceived or perceived fear of the
REXANO supports appropriate enforceable penalties on irresponsible
owners and establishment of a clearly defined method for dealing with
exotic and wild animals proven to be dangerous. REXANO strongly opposes
any legislation that determines an animal to be "dangerous" based on
breed or species rather than actions. (Back to top of
Homeowners' Insurance and Dangerous Animals
REXANO believes that insurance companies should determine coverage of an
exotic animal-owning household based on the existence of proper
enclosures and perimeter fencing. If an exotic animal has a proven track
record of an accident free, well behaved, trained and properly contained
member of the household and the community, there is no reason to deny or
cancel coverage. (Back to top of page)
Dangerous Animal Definition
Dangerous animal shall mean any animal, that according to animal
services division records; other animal control or law enforcement
authorities; or as attested to by sworn affidavit:
(a) Inflicted severe injury on a human being without provocation on
public or private property; or
(b) Killed a domestic animal without provocation while off the owner’s
(c) Has been previously found to be potentially dangerous, and the owner
having received notice of such, and the animal again aggressively bites,
attacks, or endangers the safety of humans or domestic animals.
(d) Animal shall not be deemed dangerous (or the owner liable) when the
animal is protecting the owner’s property or life against the uninvited
intruders. (Back to top of page)
More on Dangerous Animals Issue
To provide communities with the most effective dangerous animal control
possible, laws must not be species or breed specific. Instead of holding
all animal owners accountable for their behavior, breed and species
specific laws place restrictions only on the owners of certain breeds or
species. If specific breeds or species are banned, owners of these
breeds and species intent on using their animals for malicious purposes
will simply obtain other breeds or species and continue to
jeopardize public safety, or go underground.
Strongly enforced animal control laws, such as leash, double gate and
perimeter fence laws, generic guidelines for dealing with dangerous
animals and increased public education efforts to promote responsible
animal ownership are all positive ways to protect communities from
dangerous animals. Increasing public education efforts is significant
because it helps address the root cause of the problem --- irresponsible
Banning a breed or species and declaring it inherently vicious punishes
those responsible animal owners who are the type of citizens that
communities need to keep, not drive away. Many owners of the breed, mix,
or species are reliable citizens in the community, some of which use
their animals for therapy and assistance purposes, search and rescue,
drug-sniffing, and police work.
Breeds, hybrids and mixes (such as wolf content) are often difficult to
identify. Passage of laws that are only enforced when a complaint is
filed causes two problems: they create disrespect for the law if the
authorities require compliance only upon receiving a complaint, and they
provide ammunition for neighborhood feuds by the ban.
The breed or species itself is not the problem - the lack of
socialization and training, and owner responsibility is.
Accurate information on animal bites and the proportion of bites to
breeds and species is difficult to determine at best, because accurate
statistics would require "comprehensive reports of all bites, reliable
breed and species identification, and detailed information about the
demographics of the entire animal population of the area in question.
Such numbers are often unreliable since compliance with local animal
licensing or registration requirements is usually very low as many
owners see it as intrusion into their personal life and freedoms.
Bite-rate analysis cannot be accurate without a comprehensive census of
animal population in the United States.
Breed or species specific legislation is a law or statute that equates
the qualities of a dangerous animal with a certain breed or species, and
bans or restricts certain breeds or species based on identity, not
behavior of a specific animal. This type of “animal racism” legislation
does not make concessions for those members of the breed or species who
are valuable assets to their communities, such as therapy animals,
assistance animals and valued animal family members.
Breed or species specific legislation identifies an animal as
"dangerous" based upon its breed and species alone and not based on any
action or offense that the individual animal has ever committed.
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