A public health veterinarian's take on captive wildlife ownership

April 5, 2017

Dr. Jenifer Chatfield says it's all about responsibility-for pet owners of all stripes and scales.

(Shutterstock)That handsome specimen pictured above-that's a Gaboon viper, if you didn't already know. It comes up in this discussion, just so you have a visual. Said discussion is between our resident expert interviewer dvm360 business channel director Brendan Howard and public health veterinarian Dr. Jenifer Chatfield. The topic: wild animals in captivity.

At a recent CVC, Howard got a chance to sit down and discuss all sorts of potentially venomous issues such as this one that come up in the arena of public health-you can hear the whole podcast here. This clip from the podcast starts out with Dr. Chatfield's firm declaration: "I'm American. And I believe you should get to do whatever you want to do as long as it doesn't bother anybody else and doesn't present an ongoing risk to the public health and safety."

What it comes down to for Dr. Chatfield-responsible ownership. "I think you should be allowed that freedom, if you do it responsibly. I think that is the critical issue, rather than 'You shouldn't get to own this, but you can own that.'"

In case your hackles are raising a bit (or your fangs are starting to come out), here's a warning for us all from Dr. Chatfield: Be careful about casting stones of judgment before you condemn others for owning unusual animals. Consider what is considered "routine" ownership practices for dogs and cats, as shown in this podcast snippet from Dr. Chatfield:

Charmed by this intriguing discussion? Go on and click over to the complete podcast.