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The below is a post by Paul Huang on rec.pets.herp in which he discusses the bashing of persons who give away their pets.  It's really interesting and worth the time to read.  Thanks Paul.

How many of you read the subject line and said to yourself, "oh no, not again"?  By the way, this is quite long so don't read on unless you want to spend a few minutes.

Well, I have no animals that I am offering for adoption; no mean 5' iguanas with MBD, no 15' burms with a voracious appetite, no 6' alligator that my parents won't let me keep loose in my room anymore, etc.  In fact, I rescue a lot of large snakes in the area.  But what disturbs me more in a way though, is the horrible responses many of us have when someone posts something along these lines.

I can understand where many of you are coming from.  I mean, we are responsible herpers and hate to see people who are irresponsible and just want to dump their now unwanted animals off on some schmoe who cares. And, we also hate to have to help rescue or adopt these numerous unwanted animals and pay out of our own straining funds to feed and care for them properly (foot, electricity, vet bills, etc.).  But I ask you, "WHAT GOOD IS IT TO SIT HERE AND BITCH ABOUT IT AND RIP THESE PEOPLE?" Does it really get us anywhere?  The simple answer is "no".  The more complicated answer is "no" and that it pushes people who might have an interest in herps (but got off on the wrong foot) away from the hobby and makes them think that we are a bunch of f*cks which I will say we can be a lot of times (I'm definitely including myself in this).

Here's what I am getting at.  Most people who buy any herp or any animal buy the animal because it interests them and their intentions are good. They mean to care for these animals as well as they can.  Now don't get me wrong, there are exceptions but that doesn't speak for the whole. Remember, we as herpers are in this situation as well.  Our public image is mostly of people getting killed by their pet pythons, people who carry pet rattlesnakes around their necks or that weird person who has all his house lights on a timer, etc.  We want to let the public know that it is not the whole, right?  And that we're not bad... for the most part :)  So you will say to me, "well those idiots don't research their animals before buying their snakes."  But remember that a lot of these people seem to me to be people who are walking into a mall pet store or something and see that little baby burmese python.   Remember a lot of people still don't know the internet too well and don't know that iguanas can get MBD or that burms will grow *that* fast.  They know the basics and I think most of us who are getting into something foreign only know the basics as well and we learn as we go.

People are naive, I am. I will believe things you tell me, especially if you are someone who works in a pet shop and seemingly "knows" what he/she is talking about and I am but a layperson.  So, I go by this expert's advice and something goes wrong.  The burm doesn't grow to only 6 feet, it gets that size in 6 months!  I think you all know what I am talking about... look at the little pet shop of horror stories we have
all come accustomed to seeing here every week or so.

Again, the intentions are good... maybe they stepped in a bit too much or underestimated the task of keeping a certain herp but, don't tell me that ANY of you haven't done so either.  We all make mistakes, don't jump on them for making a rookie mistake (and I mean this for those who buy their first reptile and it's an iggy or burm or retic, etc.).  I would be more than lying if I said I haven't done that either. Sometimes, it's just too difficult (whether because of monetary, space, etc. considerations) to adjust to the mistake/misjudgment and someone needs a fresh start.  Let them try and let us do our best to help them. Anger, hatred and vile words just drive people away, it NEVER works to solve anything.

So what can we do?  What should we do?

Firstly, don't jump on people so quickly... it's no fun to get yelled at especially if you know you did make a mistake.  So why do it? None of us would like that...  Let's do what we can to help them out in their current situation and to help them understand that they need to look deeper and ask more questions before getting any herp.  People could easily have jumped on me for making mistakes as I could have to others but why?  It doesn't help.  Let's all lend a helping hand.

Ahh, and here's the key: WE, as herpers, need to get involved more.  No, this doesn't mean everyone going to Orlando every summer to buy lots of herps nor does it even mean going to our happy little herp society every two weeks or what ever.  The people at the shows and at the herp society are what we are all about, they know about the herps, how to properly prepare for their care, etc.  We NEED to go out there and do educational shows to schools from elementary to college.  This information needs to get to those who barely know what an iguana is besides that it might be cool to have a dinosaur-looking lizard as a pet.  Get involved at your local pet shops.  Help find caresheets that they can hand out for the main herps they sell and make sure that they are giving out the proper information on herps and their care when they are pitching a sell.  Do more publicly involved herp presentations like herp society shows or something.  Be public about things.  When something negative about herps shows up in the newsletter, let's be quick about getting a response to the respective editor stating our (and/or local herp society's) position on why that incident happened and about how that is usually prevented, etc.

It's much easier for all of us to read posts and type "what the heck were you thinking?!?!?!?!" than to go out there, take our time and use OUR money to help educate people.  Everyone who keeps herps says they love herps and loves keeping herps, so lets put some money into preserving these two things we love and share our experience with everyone so that they should not make the mistakes that we see so often.  Every herp group seems to be asking for donations.  To me, the best donation we can make to herpetoculture is the $20 into the gas of your car and the few hours out of your day to go to a school and do a talk about herps and keeping of herps.  Because once people learn more about herps, they can ask better questions and we will see decline in the number of "I need to get rid of my..." posts and see more posts on the topic of herps and herpetoculture.

We are at an all-time uphill battle here.  It is the steepest slope
we've ever had to climb.  Herpetoculture is at its peak in popularity and more and more people are getting into herps.  MANY pet shops would more than happily tell beginners something false or a distorted truth than to tell them the truth and not make the sell.  Trust me, I've seen a lot of it. For example:

"oh, that baby Burmese python will only get about 6' long" <-- as I stand there while I have my 13' Burm at home.

"your corn snake needs a special UV light and you can't use a regular light bulb for it, you need our [$25] ceramic or special light bulb"

"oh, they only live in colonies so you have to buy 10 of them"

non-herp example but one a friend who works at a pet shop told me about when she overheard her boss tell a customer about a fish species.  She has been keeping one of them by itself for several years w/o problems.

That's our problem... let's not bitch about it, let's take care of it. Inform the newbies and help them learn from our mistakes!  Then we can go back to talking about how cool our Sandfire bearded dragon is or how our emeralds are better than chondros :)

These above thoughts (if you wish to call them that) belong to me and me only.  They are only my opinions and you are more than welcomed to agree are disagree.  However, no matter how much you disagree with me, I will not change my opinion so don't try :)

If you want to flame someone because they are trying to dump an unwanted herp off, feel free to e-mail me at corallus@mail.wsu.edu and include all the swear words, insults, etc. that you wish instead of replying to them... I don't mind because nothing can turn me away from herps.

take care,
paul huang <-- highly imperfect and often makes "rookie" mistakes

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