Pet Industry Groups Call for Government Leaders to Retract Requested Ban on the International Trade of Live Wildlife
Eight pet industry groups are calling for Senators Cory A. Booker (D-NJ) and Lindsey O. Graham (R-SC) and Representatives Mike Quigley (D-IL) and Michael T. McCaul (R-TX) to retract their requested ban on the international trade of live wildlife.
“We in the responsible pet care community are extremely concerned by the threat to human health posed by the rapidly evolving coronavirus pandemic, and applaud many of the steps taken by government at all levels to help control the spread of disease and support economically devastated Americans,” reads the open letter dated April 21, which was signed by Mike Bober, president and CEO of the Pet Industry Joint Advisory Council (PIJAC). “However, we urge you to reconsider the sweeping prohibition on international live wildlife trade that you requested in your April 8, 2020, letter to the WHO [World Health Organization], OIE [World Organization for Animal Health] and FAO [Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations]. This action would provide little defense against future novel widespread infections, while doing dramatic damage to American businesses.”
The open letter was also signed by Steve King, CEO of the American Pet Products Association (APPA); Vic Mason, president of the World Pet Association (WPA); Celeste Powers, president of the Pet Industry Distributors Association (PIDA); Kevin Erickson, president of the Marine Aquarium Societies of North America; Phil Goss, president of the United States Association of Reptile Keepers; Robin M. Turner, executive director of the Animal Transportation Association; and Patti Strand, president of the National Animal Interest Alliance.
Booker, Graham, Quigley and McCaul, along with more than 60 of their Senate and House colleagues, have urged “aggressive action toward a global shutdown of live wildlife markets and a ban on the international trade of live wildlife that is not intended for conservation purposes. Live wildlife markets, known as ‘wet’ markets, were linked to the 2003 SARS outbreak and are believed to be the source of the current COVID-19.”
The pet industry groups point out that the COVID-19 virus was not spread internationally through wildlife, but instead through human-to-human contact.
“Wildlife has been legally imported into the U.S. for over 50 years without creating a zoonotic incident, and these animals pose no more threat to human health than imported and domestic animals that are already in the country,” the letter reads.
Furthermore, the ban would create “unintended consequences,” such as causing “great harm to already suffering small businesses and deprive millions of families of the joys of pet ownership.”
Aquarium stores is one example.
“A ban on the importation of wildlife would unnecessarily devastate the aquarium hobby, as fish pose zero risk of being infected and carrying COVID-19, and pose little risk of carrying any zoonotic disease,” the letter reads. “There are very few marine species collected or bred in the U.S., so a ban would end saltwater aquarium keeping and the thousands of American small businesses that provide equipment, fish, supplies and maintenance services to those hobbyists would be forced to close.”
Captive breeding of reptiles and arachnids is another area that would suffer, according to the pet industry groups.
“[These breeding] programs must continually have access to new breeding stock to ensure genetic diversity,” the letter states. “Breeders often bring in new animals from responsible, well-regulated overseas breeding facilities. Also, many of the reptiles, small mammals such as ferrets, and arachnids bred in the United States are exported to other countries. A ban on wildlife trade would destroy the market for those artisanal breeding operations, which are often small local businesses.”
The pet industry groups are encouraging the pet care community to add their names to the open letter by clicking here.