OSHKOSH, Wis. (WBAY) – It was a dream come true for pet lovers in Oshkosh today, Feb. 12, during the Exotic Pet Giveaway Event. Two dozen exotic animals were welcomed at the event organized by J&R Aquatic Animal Rescue.
However, exotic pet owners and rescuers fear a new congressional bill could make events like these more difficult.
“Recently I had someone looking to return a turtle and they came over from Illinois,” explained John Moyles, director of J&R Aquatic Animal Rescue. “So with the way [the bill is] writing now, that would be completely illegal and they couldn’t do things like that.
the America COMPETES Act of 2022 just passed in the US Congress. Posing a major potential shift for the pet industry and potentially taking pets across state lines.
“If it goes through the Senate the way it’s written now, it could completely shut down the pet trade,” Moyles pointed out. “We would not be able to take rescues from out of state. We would not be able to place animals in out of state homes. We have adopted animals from aquariums across the country.
The bill contains amendments to the current Lacey Act, which is a conservation law aimed at combating illegal trafficking in wildlife, fish and plants. The changes could make it harder to keep exotic pets that are considered “pests.” Especially when crossing state lines for veterinary care or when a family moves. Chris Acy, Aquatic Invasive Species Coordinator at Fox-Wolf Watershed Alliancesaid if it becomes more difficult, exotic pet owners may turn to other options.
“Across the country you see stories of goldfish invading ponds that maybe one or two have been thrown out and then have a big effect on our ecosystem,” Acy said. “It’s really important that we want to help prevent this spread before it becomes a problem.”
That’s why Acy says events like Saturday’s exotic animal surrender are so important. This gives adoption agencies a chance to step in. Since February 2020, J&R Aquatic Animal Rescue has taken in approximately 2,000 exotic animals to help them find new homes.
“We never charge anything to return a pet,” Moyles pointed out. “We just don’t want there to be any additional hurdles to an already difficult decision.”
Exotic animal giveaway events are held monthly, but Moyles can help anytime. Simply call (920) 419-8839 or email [email protected] if you have an exotic animal that you would like to entrust to an adoption agency.
“The craziest animals we’ve ever had were chickens, which surprises a lot of people because I can’t keep chickens at my house in Menasha,” Moyles explained. “I had to really scramble and figure out what to do.”
Moyles currently houses 300 animals in his basement waiting to be adopted. He mainly takes fish but also turtles and other animals whose owners can no longer take care of them.
“[Some pets] live 30 or 40 and you might not be interested anymore,” Moyles said. “We’ve had a lot of deaths from COVID and what do you do with your pets or your mother’s animal or your father’s animal or your husband’s animal and you just want to move on to something else? That’s kind of why we’re here.
Leading to positive environmental help in our waterways.
“Many of the animals and plants that live there either work with each other or compete for food and resources,” Acy said. “But suddenly when a new animal or plant comes in, it tips the scales. All of a sudden we get a big wave effect in our watershed.
The next Exotic Pet giveaway event will take place in Eau Claire on March 19. You can follow all J&R Aquatic Animal Rescue events by visiting their Facebook page.
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