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Over 200 Reptiles Rescued from Appalling Conditions in Milwaukee

Discussion in 'Herp Awareness' started by YellowOctopus, May 14, 2010.

  1. YellowOctopus

    YellowOctopus Elite Member

    200 exotic animals found on Milwaukee's south side - JSOnline

    Rats, mice carpeted floor where exotic animals were kept - JSOnline

    These two articles appeared in my local newspaper this last week. You can read them for yourself, but the basics are that one woman owned two houses filled to the brim with exotic reptiles, including crocodiles, alligators, anacondas, boa constrictors and a 150 pound alligator snapping turtle.

    The animals were housed in incredibly tight quarters which obviously hadn't been cleaned in a long time.

    How do you think incidents like this affect reptile care hobbyists and public perception of reptile care hobbyists? Do you think incidents like this might be, in part, responsible for the perception that reptile bans, like the boid ban working its way through Congress, are necessary?
  2. MamaGwynn

    MamaGwynn Elite Member

    Wow. So sad.
  3. Rich

    Rich Administrator Staff Member Premium Member

    I wonder if the lady was a hoarder or a breeder. It is horrible nonetheless.
  4. Flint

    Flint Elite Member

    On the first article, just reading through the first page of comments gives a pretty good answer to your questions.

    The comments were saying things like these animals are illegal aliens, they are exotics not pets, they need to be banned so this doesn't happen... etc

    There were few if any defending the rest of us, the responsible keepers.

    Then again, there was a commenter claiming he knew the owner being arrested, and had been in the warehouse being raided. He claimed it was a research lab/rehabilitation center and the animals were always extremely well kept. That the media were blowing it into a crazy horror story and the police were completely out of line.

    Whether that commenter was right, or the media was telling it like it is, this is certainly a huge reason for the constrictor ban in progress. It's the attention these horror stories get vs. the attention the sensible responsible owners get by the media. You see good wholesome dog and cat owners on the news or a talk show every once and a while, and they are always a big hit. People love them, and can relate.

    When you see reptile keepers on a talk show showing some of the pets, you always see the talk show hosts with a sort of morbid curiosity. They give these "what the heck is THAT" looks to the camera because they know the viewers at home are feeling the same way.

    I believe the way to breach the bad stigma reptiles have attained is through education. The general public needs to see these are family members just like your dog or cat.

    Classic example, I just got an essay back from my english professor; it was a cause and effect essay I wrote about my impulse buy of Flint and the resulting pneumonia and vet bills. At the end she gave me an A but wrote a side note "I'm not sure I understand how a snake can bring joy to a relationship, but interesting topic. I had no idea a snake could get pneumonia."

    Ignorance is not bliss.
  5. Dragoness

    Dragoness Elite Member

    I just read and posted a similar article, wow. Same thing though, rodents everywhere, unclean cages, but people claiming the guy who owned it all was great with herps (but nowhere to be found?)

    They said it hadn't been cleaned for a long time, and with the guy absent, kinda makes me wonder.
  6. LovetheBaruu

    LovetheBaruu Subscribed User Premium Member

    I hope Cullen just chose the wrong individual to trust, maybe she is off her meds (she certainly looks like she is struggling through something). I have used the wrong daycare in the past- people can seem benign even if they are not.
  7. Dragoness

    Dragoness Elite Member

    That's what it looks like to me.

    It seems Cullen was a highly respected individual in the area, by reptile owners who needed his help, zoos, humans societies, etc. Was he two-faced about the whole thing? or did he have to leave for a time, leaving the woman in charge, and she didn't lift a finger?

    I'm curious to see how this shakes out. I want to hear about any details that emerge in the future.
  8. YellowOctopus

    YellowOctopus Elite Member

    Flint, I think you've hit the nail right on the head. One of the big problems with living in a state with few native reptiles (we have some awesome ones though) is that people aren't used to seeing them.

    We don't have much along the lines of organizations that can educate, either. They're all underfunded and taken for granted, unfortunately, and there aren't many herp shows, pet stores, rescues, etc. in the area. The only very active one in Milwaukee is "Swords & Dreams," a tiny hole in the wall that's crammed full of herps, swords and dreamcatchers (the latter they sell to stay open, I guess). Otherwise it's a 40 minute drive. I'd never heard of this "rescue" before. It's a sorry state of affairs for reptile caregivers in Milwaukee.

    And that was a pretty rude comment to leave on a paper. Just sayin'.

    Dragoness, I'll be sure to update this thread as I hear more news. I'm really curious as to where they plan on taking the rescues.
  9. YellowOctopus

    YellowOctopus Elite Member

    Hey guys,

    An update, as promised.

    A personal acquaintance knew the two people involved. Turns out they really were good with reptiles, but because they a) started a rescue and b) there aren't any other rescues in the area, they quickly got in over their heads.

    Unfortunately, my acqaintance had given a water dragon with a broken back to the man in charge of it while it recovered-- we're worried that it'll be put down now, but maybe it's for the best.

    The other thing was that a lot of the organizations taking animals away now are the ones who gave them to the two in the first place. Other people just left animals on his doorstep.

    I guess what I'm getting from this is a) NEVER to EVER trust the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel to report something accurately and b) this incident really underscores the need for official organizations that can take in rescued exotics. Most humane societies only take in cats, dogs and rodents, and then will take the occasional sick, abandoned reptile in in their wild animal rehab programs. There's no major organization taking care of reptiles, amphibians, inverts, birds, etc.

    Recently I've been wondering if, to get a pet, we should be required by law to take a class on pet care. Maybe this incident is just evidence that we should?

    I dunno. I'm pretty depressed by all of this. Gonna go study some math for exams tomorrow. Wee.
  10. purplemuffin

    purplemuffin Elite Member

    I just gave a speech on this topic for class! The way I see it is like this--Like a driver's test! One should have to get a type of certificate, if they want a reptile they need to know what it is they are getting! At LEAST for things like monitors, iguanas and turtles!

    In my view this would stop a ton of iguana spontaneous buys! If the class includes how large an iguana can get and how much it will cost I know a lot of people would realize that it is not the pet for them!!

    Knowledge would also help things like this from happening! More people know about them, more people can realize when something becomes a problem! When we see a puppy farm we say "how terrible! Those people are wrong!" Yet, when someone sees insane reptile breeders (like the high end herps thing) that are essentially the same thing people tend to react "Wow reptiles should be banned!" and act as if all owners act like this! If they knew otherwise and got to see more healthy animals, I feel like it would do more good than bad!
  11. YellowOctopus

    YellowOctopus Elite Member

    Actually, I was lurking on craigslist earlier and saw someone who, surprise surprise, bought a nile monitor and is now giving it away. Guh.
  12. Dragoness

    Dragoness Elite Member

    For Venomous reptiles, and ROC's (Nile Monitors, Burms, retics, and scrub pythons, and anacondas) Florida requires a permit. For both permits, you have to answer questions on basic husbandry and keeping, and submit it in an application, which will be rejected if they don't like what you think.

    I'm of the opinion we should add another list that covers Iguanas, Monitors, tortoises, turtles, etc. I guess putting everything exotic on that list would help. They would still be accessible, but it would require people to get a permit (and some education) first. Tack on a nominal charge or application fee of $5, and make some revenue for the state as well.

    It sounds grand, but I'm sure there is some drawback. The whole system would have to be relatively simple, to encourage retailers and breeders to comply, else wise, they would just slip everything under the table, or close business altogether.

    No good way of enforcing it either.
  13. LovetheBaruu

    LovetheBaruu Subscribed User Premium Member

    Ha! Can you really see the pet stores asking for proof of license? And, just because someone is able to answer the questions "correctly" (and just who decides that the answer is accurate or good enough?), it in no way guarantees that they will care for the animal correctly (especially if it becomes financially uncomfortable!). Then they "rehome" them to whomever offers the best price. Have you seen the way some people treat their children? **soap box crushing under my weight-gaaa**
  14. Merlin

    Merlin Administrator Staff Member Premium Member

    And even that is no guarantee that any one is actually going to abide by the regulations. There is really no way that anyone is going to follow up and see.

    I can tell you that I have an acreage that I am going to keep an elephant on.
    When in reality I am trying to litter train it and keep it in my kitchen!
  15. Dragoness

    Dragoness Elite Member

    I want to see that, Merlin.

    On the rare occasions I rehome an animal that was given to me, I check. I tell people to expect an inspection, and if you don't pass muster, I don't leave the herp with you. But not everyone does that.

    It's one of those problems with no workable solutions.

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