I think it goes without saying that I am an animal lover. All kinds of animals, not just the warm and fuzzy ones. I cried when my bearded dragon died. I’ll have to take a bereavement day when my Shitzuh dies. However, I stand behind the decision made by the law enforcement officers dealing with the mess in Ohio.
It was an ugly situation and they made the only choice they could.
I was never trained to make life and death situations or how to cope with the aftermath, but I have respect enough for these individuals to know that the choice they made, to shoot the animals, wasn’t made easily. They didn’t go in guns blazing and there were no poses with the animals as you would see after a great hunt. It was merely trained men and (I presume) women quietly doing a job they swore an oath to do.
And that’s not to say that they are trained every day in the capture of exotic animals. This was an entirely new situation for every one of those guys who rode up that dirt road the evening. No one prepared for 50 some wild carnivores roaming the countryside. And I’d hazard a guess that a good many of those people, up until that evening had never seen a large cat outside of a zoo before.
So you can’t blame the police for the decision they made. They did what they were trained to do: protect and serve the people.
By the same token, you can’t blame the animals for their behavior. They live off instinct and their main instinct is to survive. If those animals, even the native species, were allowed to live in the surrounding area, they would have only prolonged they’re ultimate destruction by a few months at most. These weren’t animals who could find food and shelter for themselves. These were wild animals that were routinely fed and kept in enclosures. In other words, they could not fend for themselves. They would have ended up being put down because they were terrorizing neighborhoods and eating poodles. Or they would have starved or frozen to death because they were not able to find food or shelter. They would have looked towards their regular source of food – humans – and would have paid the ultimate price for doing so.
So who do we blame? Obviously the individuals who are not responsible in caring for these animals hold the lion’s share of the blame, as it were. And that’s not everyone who owns an exotic. It is only those who decide to not exercise care for both the animals and the communities in which they choose to keep the animals. Even without strict regulation and oversight, these people are ultimately responsible for the animals. They must take as great of care of them, and the people who live around them, as if there were rigid laws in place. They must act as if their very lives depend upon the safe containment of these animals.
Because sadly, in many cases, it most certainly does.