Dangerous Wild Animal Ban from the ABA's ALC, Animal Rights explained and more...
American Bar Association DWA Document

In late August, the American Bar Association's (ABA) Animal Law Committee (ALC), part of the Trial, Tort and Insurance Practice Section of the ABA, submitted a recommended Resolution (viewable at www.usark.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/09/ABA-Dangerous-Wild-Animals-Aug-2014.pdf) to the ABA House of Delegates for consideration. It does not appear that this Resolution was presented to the ABA House of Delegates at the ABA’s Annual Meeting in August and remains pending. The next opportunity for action on this proposal would presumably be at the ABA’s Mid-Year Meeting next February.

USARK has fully-reviewed the resolution which takes a position against possession of many exotic animals, including reptiles. We wanted to take the time to provide some background information rather than sending this without explanation, seeing as this is not a matter of dire urgency. No action (i.e. adoption or rejection of this Resolution) has been taken by the House of Delegates. There will be opportunities to challenge and revise the Resolution if movement is seen regarding this document.

This Resolution urges adoption of a ban on private ownership of certain animals, including reptiles. This "Dangerous Wild Animal" (DWA) sample legislation is nearly identical to the DWA bills that have been introduced in various states in recent years. Certain committees within the ABA, which are largely populated by ideologically-motivated members of the Bar, have been active on exotic animal issues for years. While this is not a new threat, vigilance is warranted and it is important that we continue to monitor ABA activity. Action has been seen by certain members of the Bar that varies little from activism against the pet community.

USARK will keep you updated on any issues arising from this matter.

Why is the ABA involving themselves with animal-related matters?

The ABA is comprised of several “Sections” organized around different areas of law. The ALC is relatively unique in that it is dominated by members of the ABA that have ties to animal rights groups (usually such committees have attorneys with a wide variety of viewpoints). Not surprisingly, its positions tend to mirror those of the Animal Legal Defense Fund, the Humane Society of the United Sates (HSUS), and other related organizations. As such, it is less of a concern that the Animal Law Committee has adopted this Resolution than it would be if it became the official position of the ABA.

 What is the basis of this document?

Unfortunately, this document heavily references material, websites, and blogs belonging to HSUS, Born Free USA, and other animal rights groups. Even inaccurate internet media articles are cited. This recommendation is certainly skewed to the favor of the animal rights movement, as HSUS is cited repeatedly. It does not incorporate any material or statistics reinforcing that the overwhelming majority of these animals are kept by responsible keepers and that there is no true threat to public safety. This committee also suggest regulation through collective punishment (punishment of the whole due to a few) which is overbearing and unconstitutional. Rather than punishing the deserving irresponsible pet owners, the entire pet community is punished.

What is this committee recommending?

The Live Animal Committee is suggesting an end to the private ownership of the animals listed below. While they do suggest that current pet owners should be "grandfathered" (exempt from a new ban and able to keep their pets), it does state that even grandfathered owners must meet new regulations. This may include liability insurance (a cost that may prove prohibitive to keeping an animal), expensive permits and other requirements. They also recommend that breeding and acquisition of new animals be terminated.

Animals listed as "Dangerous Wild Animals"
  • Class Mammalia
    • Order Carnivora:
      • Family Canidae: captive-bred red wolves (Canis rufus) and gray wolves (Canis lupus).
      • Family Felidae: lions (Panthera leo), tigers (Panthera tigris), leopards (Panthera pardus), clouded leopards (Neofelis nebulosa, Neofelis diardi), snow leopards (Panthera uncia), jaguars (Panthera onca), cheetahs (Acinonyx jubatus), captive-bred mountain lions (Puma concolor).
      • Family Hyaenidae: all species of hyena and aardwolf.
      • Family Ursidae: Asiatic Black Bears (Ursus thibetanus), captive-bred American black bears (Ursus americanus), Brown Bears (Ursus arctos), Polar Bear (Ursus maritimus), Sloth Bears (Melursus ursinus), Sun Bears (Helarctos malayanus), Giant Panda Bears (Ailuropoda melanoleuca), Spectacled Bears (Tremarctos ornatus), including hybrids thereof.
      • Family Procyonidae: all species, excluding raccoons (Procyon lotor).
    • Order Primates: all species, excluding humans.
  • Class Reptilia
    • Order Crocodylia: all species of alligators, crocodiles, caimans, gharials.
    • Order Squamata:
      • Family Atractaspidae: all species, such as mole vipers.
      • Family Boidae: anacondas (Genus Eunectes), boa constrictors (Boa constrictor), Burmese pythons (Python molurus), reticulated pythons (Python reticulatus), amethystine pythons (Morelia amethistinus), scrub pythons (Morelia kinghorni), Northern African pythons (Python sebae), Southern African pythons (Python natalensis).
      • Family Colubridae: boomslangs (Dispholidus typus), twig snakes (Genus Thelotornis).
      • Family Elapidae: all species, such as cobras, mambas, and coral snakes.
      • Family Hydrophiidae: all species, such as sea snakes.
      • Family Viperidae: all species, such as rattlesnakes, pit vipers, and puff adders.
Who would be exempt under this sample legislation? 

Only facilities accredited with the American Zoological Association (AZA) and the Global Federation of Sanctuaries, circuses that possess class C Animal Welfare Act licenses, etc. (See page 14 at

Very Quick Animal Rights Lesson
USARK has previously written regarding the animal rights (AR) movement and post often regarding this issue on our Facebook page at www.facebook.com/UnitedStatesAssociationOfReptileKeepers. This is a very brief study on AR.

You DO NOT believe in animal rights if you feel it is okay to do even one of the following:
  • Play fetch with a dog
  • Pet a cat
  • Ride a horse
  • Have any animal as a pet (dog, cat, fish, bird, reptile, amphibian, etc.)
  • Eat eggs for breakfast
  • Have milk (dairy) on your cereal
  • Eat cheese (dairy) and crackers
  • Wear a leather belt
  • Use animal insulin if diabetic (animal insulin is less common today but saved million of lives)
  • Celebrate Thanksgiving with a turkey dinner
  • Etc.
If you believe any single item noted above is acceptable, you are not an animal rights activist and you do not support animal rights. However, if you believe in the humane treatment of animals, responsible pet ownership, and the benefits of the bond between humans and animals, you are an animal welfare advocate. Animal welfare and animal rights are vastly different.

AR activists believe that there should be absolutely no interaction between humans and animals. No livestock. No pets. Absolutely no interaction.

Many AR groups pose as animal welfare groups. It is very important to learn the true agenda of any organization before donating your money or time. Many of these faux "animal welfare" groups raise money fraudulently by showing commercials of abused dogs and cats. Hundreds of millions of dollars are raised annually by these groups. Often, less than 1% of money raised goes to the care of the animals shown in these advertisements. These groups will even often take credit for rescues and animal care in which they have no involvement. The statement below was made following Hurricane Katrina and is a clear illustration:

"We just completed the largest animal evacuation in the history of New Orleans. After its completion, HSUS drove their trucks up in front of the whole deal, shot some footage and has posted it as their own rescue." - MuttShack Animal Rescue

Would you donate $100 to help animals if you knew that only $1 of that donation would actually benefit animals? The other $99 is spent on lobbying to directly remove the freedoms of Americans, "education" which may mean placing "spay/neuter your pet" stickers on pairs of socks and shipping them to thousands of people, payroll and other activities having nothing to do with the care of dogs and cats. Donate locally and know where your hard-earned money is going.
Action Alert: Potential ESA Listing of Pyxis Tortoises
Deadline Sept. 8
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) has made a 90-Day Finding that the listing of the Spider tortoise (Pyxis arachnoides) and the Flat-tailed tortoise (Pyxis planicauda) as threatened or endangered under the Endangered Species Act may be warranted. This includes all subspecies. If you have business, scientific, or display interests in these species, it is critical for you to provide information. Comments are due September 8, 2014.

What to do:

  1. Submit relevant information and comments directly to FWS at www.regulations.gov/#!submitComment;D=FWS-HQ-ES-2014-0012-0001;
  2. Provide USARK with your concerns, relevant scientific and commercial data, and any other information you believe useful to assist us developing the Association’s comment. Email information to info@USARK.org.

FAQ, comment guidelines and more information at www.usark.org/2014-blog/pyxis-tortoises/.

Other News/Events
NARBC Anaheim: September 6-7 in Anaheim, CA. USARK will be there! Get show information at www.narbc.com/Anaheim/anaheim.html.

New York Metro Reptile Expo: September 7 in White Plains, NY. Stop by the USARK booth! Show details at www.reptileexpo.com/nyfirst.htm.

Charleston Area Reptile Expo: September 7 in Charleston, WV. Stop by the WV USARC booth! Show details at www.charlestonexpo.org/.

Canadian Reptile and Exotic Pet Breeders Expo: September 13-14 in Toronto, Canada. More details at www.reptilebreedersexpo.ca/.

Repticon FIRE: September 13-14 in Lakeland, FL. Details at www.repticon.com/index.html.

All Ohio Reptile Show: September 13 in Hilliard, OH. More details at www.allohioreptileshows.webs.com.

Chico Reptile Show: September 13 in Chico, CA. Show details at www.chicoreptileshow.com/.

Cin City Reptile Show:  September 14 in Mason, OH. More details at www.cincityreptileshow.com.

Indiana Reptile Breeders' Expo: September 21 in Clarksville, IN. More details at www.irbexpo.com.

NARBC Arlington: September 27-28 in Arlington, Texas. USARK will see you there! Get more details at www.narbc.com/Arlington/arlington.html.

Sacramento Reptile Show: September 27-28 in Sacramento, CA. Stop and say hello at the USARK booth! Show details at www.sacreptileshow.com/.

Georgia Reptile Experience: Sept. 27-28 in Macon, GA. More information for this educational event presented by the Georgia Reptile Society at

Kentucky Reptile Expo: October 4 in Louisville, KY. More details at www.kentuckyreptileexpo.com/.

NARBC Tinley Park: October 11-12 in Tinley Park, IL.  Show details at www.narbc.com/Tinley/tinley_park.html.

Midwest Herpetological Symposium: October 17-19 in Indianapolis, IN. Discount for registration before Sept. 15. Get more details at www.hoosierherpsoc.org/pdf/SymposiumBrochure.pdf.

SEWERFEST Reptile Show: November 9 in Sturtevant, WI. Be sure to stop by the MAHS and USARK booths. Show details at www.sewerfest.com/.

Tracy Reptile Show: November 8-9 in Tracy, CA. Show details at www.shedskin.net/Shedskin.net/2014_TRACY_REPTILE_EXPO.html.

2014 TTPG Conference on Turtles and Tortoises: November 12-14 in Mesa, AZ. Get details and register at www.ttpg.org/conference2014.html.

Phoenix Reptile Expo: November 15-16 in Mesa, AZ. Show details at www.phxreptileexpo.com/.

Northwest Reptile Expos: January 17 in Portland, OR. Show details at www.nwreptileexpos.com/.

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