To the editor:
As a responsible exotic animal owner and lover, I was saddened to read about the recent escape and death of a chimpanzee in what appears to be a keeper's mistake. I was very upset when a few days later Nevada state Sen. Michael Roberson announced his plan to introduce an exotic animal ban, punishing all the responsible exotic animal owners, including his casino clients, because of the mistake of one.
Sen. Roberson is working on the ban with an out-of-state outsider - the Washington D.C.-based animal rights lobby group the Humane Society of the United States, which is not associated with any local humane societies or shelters. The group spends millions on salaries and pushing for unnecessary, job-killing regulations and bans introduced by brainwashed legislators.
If Sen. Roberson had any concerns, he should have contacted us - Responsible Exotic Animal Ownership, a nonprofit group. We just happen to be in his district. Unfortunately, our calls and emails (and those of other exotic animal owners and tax-paying, job-creating businesses) have been ignored by him.
As for public safety, only one person has died in Nevada since 1990 due to an exotic animal attack - a tiger trainer (occupational hazard, not a public safety risk). That is 0.045 people per year.
If Sen. Roberson is truly worried about public health and safety, he should concentrate on real issues. Every year as many as 400 people die in Nevada traffic accidents, 5,000 of heart disease, almost 500 by suicide and around 450 due to flu and pneumonia. Dogs kill more people each year in Nevada than exotics have in the past 22 years.
If Sen. Roberson refuses to grandfather the current owners under his proposed legislation, what does he plan to do with the newly homeless animals? Will he have their blood on his hands? Wildlife sanctuaries are full and they often have less trained staff than fine Nevada trainers and owners. Sanctuaries are usually nonprofit and therefore don't stimulate the economy the same way Nevada exotic animal owners and businesses do. Plus, we are inspected by the same federal agency, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, just like everybody else.
I myself moved here from a more urbanized area looking for freedom and open spaces. I am sick and tired of the people who, like me, move here from overregulated areas and then, unlike me, try to change it to be like the old "home."
I have advice for these folks: If you are against freedom, guns, exotic animals, prostitution and gambling, do not move here. Leave and go back where you came from. Please, leave us alone so we can enjoy one of the few islands of freedom and peace in an otherwise over- regulated nation. Keep Nevada free of nanny politicians who listen only to the out-of-state special interest organizations, instead of their own constituents.
The writer is president of Responsible Exotic Animal Ownership.