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Reptile, Fish Fans Urged to Back Swap Meet Bill

Posted: Aug. 9, 2013, 5:35 p.m. EDT


By Clay Jackson

Score one for the pet industry.

Pet sellers are on the cusp of a major victory with the amendment of California’s Swap Meet Bill, which now exempts reptile, aquatic and other pet shows from what would have been a ban on the sale of live animals at such events.

The Pet Industry Joint Advisory Council is asking California residents to contact their state senator by Monday and ask them to support the legislation, AB 339. The Senate Appropriations Committee is scheduled to consider the measure Monday.

A form letter available for email is at PIJAC.org.

 Reef
The United States is the largest fishkeeping market.

Introduced in February, the original AB 339 would have criminalized the sale of live animals at reptile, aquatic and other pet shows. If the language had survived the legislative labyrinth and become law, the measure could have had a chilling effect on several big reptile and aquatic shows that take place in California every year, such as the North American Reptile Breeders Conference (NARBC), Reptile Super Shows and Reef-A-Palooza.

The lifeblood of these shows are the live lizards, snakes, turtles, tortoises, amphibians and, in the case of Reef-A-Palooza, corals and fish.

"NARBC would have been done in California,” said Brian Potter, co-promoter of the show, "and then you have to worry that five more states might adopt similar laws and all of our shows would be out of business.”

The trickle-down effect would hit other establishments, Potter said.

"There are a lot of mom-and-pop reptiles businesses who don’t sell online but use reptile shows as the main source of their income, and they would be out of business, too,” he said.

PIJAC credited the "response of stakeholders earlier this year” and its collaboration with the United States Association of Reptile Keepers for getting AB 339 amended.

"Animal rights crazies that go overboard damage businesses and families, and animals aren’t benefiting from that,” Potter said.

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