Should Texans Be Allowed To Own Dangerous Animals As Pets?
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The newness and thrill of owning an exotic animal often excites people to get one. Texas pet law states that exotic animals can be privately owned as long as the owner has a certificate of registration for the animal that was issued by the Texas Department of State Health Services. This includes animals considered dangerous, such as lions, tigers, wolves, bears, and non-human primates.
However, some Texans believe that certain exotic animals are too dangerous to be allowed as pets. This belief was supported in 2021 when a Bengal tiger escaped from its owner and roamed freely throughout a neighborhood in Houston, Texas. After the incident, the public appeared divided concerning the logic of the exotic pet ownership law. Some people argued that wild animals belong only in their natural habitats and should never be allowed as pets. Others argued for individual property rights and believed that if a person wanted a dangerous animal as a pet, then he or she should be allowed to own one. Yet another group agreed with the individual rights argument, but did not want a dangerous wild animal living in their neighborhood.
The main goal of our study is to assess the attitudes of Texans concerning the right to maintain dangerous wild animals as pets. Our objectives include determining: 1) whether Texans believe that dangerous wild animals should be kept as pets, 2) what species of exotic animals Texans currently maintain as pets, 3) the level of comfort that Texans have concerning various species of dangerous animals, and 4) the level of comfort of Texans concerning ownership of dangerous animals within various distances of their own home. Our study will provide Texas lawmakers with information that can be used to better serve the public concerning exotic pet ownership.