B.C. moves to ban dangerous pets
The B.C. government has implemented new rules to ban dangerous pets such as tigers, pythons and alligators to prevent harm to the public.
Environment Minister Barry Penner said Tuesday that people shouldn't have to worry about being harmed by such animals in their communities.
The ban follows a death two years ago when a Siberian tiger mauled the girlfriend of its owner near 100 Mile House, B.C.
In December 2007, a Surrey man lost his finger after he was bitten by a poisonous cobra.
"While B.C. hospitals carry anti-venom for rattlesnakes native to the province, they can't anticipate all the different types of snakes people may import into B.C.," Penner said in a statement.
The new regulations mean pet owners can no longer own several types of foreign mammals, amphibians or reptiles unless the animal was already in B.C. as of Monday.
People who already own a foreign pet who came into the province before that date may be able to keep the animal, if they apply for and are granted a permit from the Environment Ministry. Owners are also prohibited from breeding or releasing the animals.
Sara Dubois, manager of wildlife services for the SPCA, applauded the government's move, saying it addresses the public safety risks of foreign animals.
"It will finally provide legal direction and ministry support to our officers who are often called upon to investigate complaints of cruelty involving dangerous foreign wildlife," she said.
"Before these regulations came into effect this week, there were no safeguards in place to prevent anyone from purchasing a tiger, a venomous snake or a crocodile over the Internet and keeping it in their home or on their property."
Accredited zoos and research or educational institutions can continue breeding the regulated animals but must apply for a permit for each animal beginning in November.
The film industry will also be required to get a permit for temporarily bringing controlled animals into B.C. and must remove the animals from the province when the film shoot has been completed.