Instigator / Pro

THBT Personal Ownership of Wild Animals as Pets Should be Illegal in US


The debate is finished. The distribution of the voting points and the winner are presented below.

Winner & statistics
Better arguments
Better sources
Better legibility
Better conduct

After 2 votes and with 14 points ahead, the winner is...

Publication date
Last updated date
Number of rounds
Time for argument
Three days
Max argument characters
Voting period
One month
Point system
Multiple criterions
Voting system
Contender / Con

Wild animal: a wild animal must have been living in the natural environment – not domesticated. Does not include dogs or cats for sake of this debate.

Burden of proof is shared. No kritiks.

R1: Constructives
R2: Rebuttals
R3: Further Rebuttal and conclusion

Round 1
When one encounters a legal problem regarding pet ownership, one must consider the gains to the persons and the harms to animals. Animals must not unnecessarily suffer, as it is cruel and inhumane to torture something that feels pain. Similarly, the animal cannot pose severe harm to the owner, otherwise, we encourage people to send themselves to their deaths. It is not possible to give them the necessities they have in the wild. We need a significant amount of space, natural mating, and reproduction, etc to support them. Therefore, they are suffering due to their needs not being met. Many exotic animals are also innately powerful creatures with natural hunting instincts, so they are unnecessarily dangerous to own.

I. Animal cruelty

A dark side of owning wild animals is the animal trade world. During the capturing of wild animals, they are aggressively taken away from their natural habitat and home. Then they get prepared to be transported, where they experience cruel conditions to be hidden, a few examples are: birds having their beaks and feet taped and then stuffed into tubes, baby turtles forced to stay in their shells and then stuffed into tube socks, or baby pythons shipped in CD cases. [2] They also are exposed to and often contract deadly diseases, and the majority do not live to their final destination or for more than a year once they are in captivity. There are some laws in place that intend to protect the animal. However, transporters ignore these regulations and are not enforced or tracked. Animals' needs are severely neglected and everything about the process is cruel and unethical.

On a broader level, even the expert source agrees that "trade in wild animals or animal parts such as skins, bones or meat is a global, multibillion-dollar business that is driving several species towards extinction" [4]. The commercialization of the animals is detrimental to the environment as a result. Another strong study highlights that "No doubt, the loss of biodiversity does not only threaten new drug discovery especially in the light of emerging and reemerging diseases, but it also threatens the ability to discover a more effective therapy for the burgeoning non-communicable diseases". [5] Finally, we relate to ourselves. The loss of biodiversity inherently negatively affects our health. Even if Con would shut down the animals' rights, we still have ourselves to worry about. With the illegalization of wild animal ownership, we will inevitably help boost our health.

Even without the animal trade, owners are incompetent and unable to treat the animals properly. (PETA [1])

"In the hands of unprepared or incompetent caretakers, many exotic animals die or are abandoned. The head of the Environmental Crime Investigation unit in Western Cape, South Africa, estimates that 90 percent of exported reptiles die within a year.

Animal control authorities confiscated a crippled cougar cub from a Buffalo, New York, basement. The animal, kept by a teenager, had been fed a diet deficient in calcium and, as a result, suffered from deformed legs. Hedgehogs, who roll themselves into tight balls, can easily become injured if children try to “uncurl” them or if cats attack them. Sugar gliders are very social animals, and if they are not given enough attention, they may self-mutilate or die from the stress of loneliness."

The result of animal cruelty is to reduce the animal to a mere means to an end. This contradicts the nature of having pets: the idea of having a companion on equal or near-equal grounds. We do not adopt dogs only to skin them alive. If Con supports ownership of wild animals, he supports the animal mistreatment clear in the animal trade world.

II. Threat to owner

 Exotic animals can pose a huge threat to the safety of the owner and the public. If the animal were to ever escape or lash out (which would be the animal’s instinct), the owner and the entire public is at risk of being severely injured or even killed. Also, the animal is at risk of being killed or severely injured by humans to protect the public -- despite the owner's choice to accept the risk. Many people are unaware of the difficult and specific care, high cost, and high maintenance that these animals require. As a result, these animals suffer greatly and are not cared for properly, and often become neglected or even sometimes released. Due to these animals being raised in captivity, they are unable to survive in the wild, therefore they must remain in captivity for their entire lives [1][6]. Animal sanctuaries are facilities that rescue exotic animals that are surrendered or released by the owner, or in abusive environments. True animal sanctuaries do not receive profit, do not allow photo ops with visitors, or are even closed to the public. [3

Indeed, even though real-life examples, my claims are easy to see in reality. The Pet Monkey has bitten its owner on many occasions, with experts worrying about a potential B-virus originating from these incidents. [7] Salmonella is also common within the shedding of animals, and the implications of this are more vast. One study finds that "In total, 43% of the reptiles were shedding Salmonella spp., with a prevalence of 62%, 67% and 3% in snakes, lizards, and chelonians, respectively." [8] Even if this can be reduced with hygiene, many do not know enough information for a fully informed decision. The threat to the owner overall is far too difficult to implement some kind of fail-safe system. Already, countless people have been infected, hurt, or even killed by their wild pets. It's time to end this once and for all. 

III. Con's burden

Should con wish to legalize wild animal trade, there lies many implementation problems that prevent him from succeeding. I ask him that he resolve most, if not all these problems, to fulfill his burden of proof. As yet another study realizes, "most of the value and cost studies do not relate their estimates to wildlife population size, which limits their usability for efficient policy design." [9] Even though the majority of studies take place in the US, they are still not comprehensive enough when taken together. The same expert would likely ask con to answer the same problems: "relating costs and benefits to wildlife populations; estimating values and costs of wildlife in developing countries; evaluating wildlife policies in practice; addressing implications of uncertainty in population size, costs, and benefits for policy design; and estimating transaction costs for implementation and enforcement of wildlife policies."

I will admit that, if there is a sufficient enough benefit and mitigation of risk, that Con may be able to win this debate, but that is his burden to fulfill. I have given a great pile of sources suggesting incredible danger and cruelty, should the wild animal trade be legalized. I will leave the floor to Con to answer my questions, and refute my arguments.

Round 2

To clarify why animal suffering matters, any living beings' unnecessary suffering is unjust. For any given suffering, Con must give a massive benefit or advantage to overcome the harm given. Even then, whatever harm can be reduced should be minimized if possible.
Round 3
I claim victory.