Pythons & Petitions! 10

We’ve all seen them outside of the local grocer waiting like a Vulture on a Saguaro. They won’t approach on the exit, they know your hands may be full and you won’t be able to grasp the pen. The smart ones get you when you’re going in. Watching you get out of the car, judging the distance until you reach the automatic sliding door. Carefully observing you out of the corner of their eye. Then when there is just enough time left; probably while you’re trying to separate those metal grocery carts they pounce on you like a Spider monkey! (just to be clear for my anthropologist/primate people Spider monkeys do not pounce on people)

“Hey there, I am gathering signatures for…” You the know the spiel.

So what actually happens with our signatures? I wondered this myself and then I started looking at electronic petitions and comparing them to the ones in print. What I discovered was very disheartening but made sense once I paused to think about it.

So you sign a petition to repeal this or that law. Did you ever hear of what happened after you signed it? I have yet to read or hear a news broadcast stating that X amount of signatures repealed such and such a law today. Have you? If you have please let me know in the comments below with a specific link to the story because I would love to believe that this stuff works. To be  absolutely clear, I am not referring to County initiatives which are a different entity.

Electronic signatures on petitions are not seen by politicians as a valid signature as they can be faked too easily. Pen and paper signatures are better but these are generally for county initiatives as the open window for repeal of Federal rulings to change is very short. This is obviously so that we as constituents are not as likely to attempt to challenge a ruling. I must say that the reptile community has definitely proven that to be true.

As I am writing this piece it’s 10:55 PM PST and the petition on the had a total of 209 signatures to the petition to overturn the “Python Ban” What is interesting is that the petition for USARK which needed the same amount of signatures to be recognized didn’t get them either.

Here’s a disturbing truth, there are 4.6 million homes in the United States that own reptiles according to the APPA American Pet Products Association 25,000 signatures is a paltry 1.84% of reptile owners who actually own reptiles! So why the lackadaisical response to such a large ruling which impacts so many people? It’s real simple folks. We are lazy! I don’t care if you run 30 miles a day and donate 10% of your income to a charity. On a large-scale anything that requires an actual thoughtful effort is relegated to letting someone else doing it.

As Chris Law has mentioned to me several times in numerous conversations we have had. There is enough talent in the reptile community to create an entity that will showcase the quality aspects of reptile keeping and I personally would go so far as to say that this talent would be able  make an impact that would reverberate all the way to Washington D.C. where essentially right now even the with all the thousands of dollars being spent by organizations trying to fight for us we are still but a mosquito buzzing in the ear of those in power. We’ve got 4.6 million excuses and the fact is, we are to blame for letting this Federal ruling pass.

I’m not discounting the efforts of the current organizations who are fighting for our privileges to own reptiles. They are the only ones we have at the moment. That being said, the current organizations which are fighting for these privileges need to be open to the suggestions and talents that have been offered on numerous occasions by the very constituents that they are representing. I have personally heard of numerous occasions where talents have been ignored or dismissed. They also need to be completely transparent which is another issue that the constituency has brought to the their attention and has been largely ignored. Not only is this going against the community that they claim to represent but also leaves the proverbial bad taste in the mouths of those who are trying to support you.

‘But I donated to USARK, wrote letters, and…’

Maybe you did. Do you want a cookie now? Let me ask you this? Did you share what was happening with anyone outside of your specific circle? Here’s a quote to think about

“An insular community will never move beyond its boundaries by not reaching out to embrace change.”

I had people take a survey last year and asked them about whether they were involved with a local club or society 68% of those surveyed don’t belong to a club or reptile society but 83% attend reptile shows! That to me is very telling about how far we have withdrawn from the community at large.

I get it, there’s not many people who are into reptiles out there. Hell, my own mother-in-law won’t visit my home because we have reptiles; not that I am complaining mind you. Speaking of talent in our community, we must also hold accountable those who represent our community in a poor light. We have the mass media educating the public about our pets. Let’s face it, we are allowing stations like Animal Planet, Discovery, and others who present shows like Swamp Brothers where reptiles are put into situations where they were not actually found to fake the hype for the camera! (For more on this go to The Reptile Living Room Python Ban: A Reptile Round Table.)The American public is not going to go beyond their remote to see if Alligators or snakes react the way they are portrayed on television.

This being the case we as a community need to reach out beyond our four walls and embrace a much larger community which may not like reptiles but will listen to a properly organized talk if one should be offered. Something else we should be doing is to make efforts to remove programming that insults the reptile community with their inaccurate portrayal of reptiles and how they are to be handled.

In conclusion, it is time that we as a community come together and start correcting many of the issues that we have allowed to take hold of our community. We have stepped away from our connection with one another and now we stand more divided than ever. We need to seek further methods to gain the attention of reptile keepers nation-wide in order to bring more into the fight. Further, we need to support those who bring a greater educational message to the younger generation of herpetoculturists as well as those who are not involved in herpetoculture. Wildlife conservation and education requires the support of more than just our own. If we continue allowing Animal Planet and Discovery channel sensationalism to do all of the ‘educating’ there will be nothing left of our community within a few short years. It is time for us to set the record straight, but we must also embrace change within our own policies and dealings with the general public and those who are embracing herpetoculture for the very first time. They are our future and they are the future for the animals we love and admire.

Special Note: Thanks to Chris Law for co-authoring this piece.

10 thoughts on “Pythons & Petitions!

  • johnftaylor Post author

    Patti, that’s awesome. Don’t ever discount your efforts as long as you’re sharing proper care knowledge and responsible pet ownership then you are already doing more than most. Keep up the great work and the team here at The Reptile Apartment Group applaud your efforts!

  • Patti

    It’s not a lot, but I share my limited knowledge of reptiles with anyone who will listen. I have taken several of mine to a local elementary school for the”Great American Teach In,” where the teachers seemed as interested as the kids on learning about these creatures they were unfamiliar with. Many of them were rescues, which made them even more interesting to talk about, as I could enforce the importance of being responsible and taking time to do the proper research on pet care for whatever species they might have.

    I have also shared my reptiles with others I’ve come in contact with, at pet stores, at work, at the chiropractor’s office…one local pet store sends their customers to me with reptile questions if I happen to be in the store, as they know I’ve done some reading, and that I’ll do my best to help them find the answers they need.

  • johnftaylor Post author

    Shoot! You’re doing a heck of a lot more than most my friend! I totally want you to promote what you’re doing that’s why I wrote what I did to get peoples attention and let them know that you and I are out there doing something besides bad mouthing everyone else! Please post a link or meeting sites in your next comment as we are all about promoting the positive aspects. We totally stand behind those taking action!

  • B. Durant

    I’m sorry. I didn’t realize you wanted to know what we had personally done. I was commenting on the content of your article not trying to tell your audience about myself. But since you asked here’s some of what I have done.

    I speak to family, co-workers, and people in my church about the issues that we face. I’ve been especially vocal (and will continue to be vocal) about the issues relating to the ban.

    I do my best to educate people about reptiles. Both in person and online.

    I allow people into my home to see, and if appropriate handle, the reptiles I keep.

    I’m currently in the process of starting an amateur herp club in the area I live in. There is nothing within 100 miles of me that I’m aware of.

    In the big scheme of things I suppose I don’t do much at all, but I try to do what I can, when I can and the best I can.

  • johnftaylor Post author

    Rick, that’s truly a great story and you know what that’s one more thing that I can help you with. I have done numerous public speaking events and will soon be travelling out of country to do the very same. I would ask that you sign up for the newsletter as well as shoot me an email directly replacing the AT with the @ symbol of course and let’s explore the idea of getting you into the public format and doing some talks. The more education the better we off we are as you already know!

  • johnftaylor Post author

    Cheryl, I really enjoyed reading your comment and what you brought up are valid points. I personally believe that Kingsnake would not be the place to develop a new movement. Before we even take one step forward in enacting such a movement as you and I both recognize as severely needed we need one thing. We need to identify and hold accountable those willing to go the distance. I cannot tell you how many people have told me personally ‘Yeah, yeah, I will help you with this or that.’ Then when it came time to actually work guess what…yeah, ghost town. A lot of people will run lip service but rarely will they step up to the plate. I believe you are serious about this so please send me an email directly with VOLUNTEER as the subject line and we will beging discussing some options. My email address is replace the AT with the @ symbol. I look forward to speaking with you soon.

  • johnftaylor Post author

    Everything you just commented and not one word about what you’re doing or did for the hobby. I wonder did you actually click on the Continue reading → tag? Because everything in your comment was a direct regurgitation of the entire piece. So let’s back up and try this again? What is it exactly you’re doing the for the community?

  • Rick O'Neil

    Hi, this is a good read. I myself would love to do something educational for my community . The problem for me is, I have problems doing any type of presentation in front of crowds. A phobia so to speak. I think it may be time to break through that wall to help the hobby i have enjoyed for a lifetime!!! I promise to do my best to concur my fear , and in turn help others concur their fear of reptiles. It is time to put our best foot forward and show that reptiles are not evil , ugly, monsters. I remember years ago , I had a party and a croc show was on tv. I had ten people sitting in the living room saying all kinds of dirogatory things like .”They are mindless eating machines , all they do is kill and eat, and what not.” So i rewound the tape to the part where the mother croc was helping her babies dig out , and carrying them to the water in her mouth . They were amazed by this. I asked ,What do you think now? It felt good to make them think twice about there statements. I just have to get past my fear of crowds. I have no idea why I am like this . But i vow to get past that and be more pro active . It is time .Thanks for posting this.

  • Cheryl Bott

    ‘Contact’ is the main issue, all of ‘us’ are not hard lined to be seen or to see things that will explain or help us with the legalities of reptile ownership. Of course laziness enters into this, but a large number if reptile owners consider their wards temporary or ‘disposable’, which is what got us here in the first place…blah blah blah.

    Moving on, contact can and should be made! We can use to establish a ground zero enity and unite and work from there! We need to have district volunteers to do exotic shows and reptile shows and to ask promoters to supply us space to distribute petition forms and also care sheets to the chosen species which will help to endear us with the general public. I believe we have a wealth of talent within our grouping of devotes. I for one have been discounted as a member of this society and I for one would help to my greatest capacity as I’m sure others would too, if they were invited to do so. I also see others volunteering but are not even noticed. I make this/these statements as someone who dearly loves my hobby and can’t imagine my life without my reptile species in my life. I have been a ‘Daytona exhibitor’ for 11 years and am proud of what I breed and offer life long customer support! I for one am ready to be called upon!

    Time is critical and we are quickly debating ourselves out of whatever time is left!

  • B. Durant

    I’m sorry but it’s far too little and far too late to be worried about signing online petitions. US Ark estimates that it will cost $150,000 to even begin the process of a lawsuit. The actions are by necessity going to be a lot more painful than just signing online petitions.

    But it’s more than a money problem that the reptile community faces. It’s that there is really no community. Look how many boa and retic keepers breathed a huge sigh of relief when their species were removed from the ban list. Many of them then turned to the burm keepers, the yellow anaconda keepers, and those who have a. rocks and said “Good luck guys and gals!” and went on their merry way. It comes down to a simple principle. If it doesn’t affect a person directly and doesn’t affect someone they personally know they probably won’t do much more than pay it lip service.

    Finally it is just not an issue for the general American public. The vast, vast, vast majority of Americans could not care any less that 4 species of snakes were “banned”. It impacts them in no way whatsoever. I’d hazard to guess that more often than not you’ll find the average American is pleased with the ban. Why? Because they are snakes and most people are terrified of snakes. At best they are indifferent to snakes.

Comments are closed.