Monday, March 2, 2009

Strange Pets

Never mind that a chimpanzee that had done television commercials went berserk and attacked a woman viciously, people are still making chimps pets. They are in a state of denial, stating that attack was just an isolated incident.

Here's a point of fact, any animal that is ten times stronger than you is not a pet you have confined in a house or apartment. They are wild animals, and if you are not a trained zoologist, you should not try to handle them.

Famous folks, and not so famous folks, have had pets that go beyond the traditional dog, cat and canary. I remember growing up, reading Ebony magazine, and seeing an article about boxer George Foreman and his pet lions. Yes, lions. Foreman, then the undefeated heavyweight boxing champion of the world, admitted during that time in his life he was using drugs. If you have lions as pets, I believe that.

My most vivid memory about a strange pet was when I was in the state legislature. There was a woman in Mississippi who wanted to have a white-tail deer as a pet. She found the deer on her property and started feeding it. Since it hung around, she decided to claim it as a pet. The town where she lived said that she could not keep the deer as a pet. So she decided to take it to a higher authority, the Legislature.

I can't remember who actually introduced the bill that would allow this woman to have this deer as a pet, but I do remember how angry I was that the bill made it out of committee and we actually had to vote on the bill. There she was sitting in the gallery, the press focused on her, and members of the House of Representatives speaking in the well on her behalf. I had planned to be silent and just vote my belief, but after about three speeches telling about the virtues of this woman and her good heart, I had to speak.

I spoke with passion and clarity of the health risks this legislation would create, especially since there was an outbreak of Lyme's Disease that year. I admonished the members that Mississippi had more pressing issues than the selfish interest of one woman. Thank goodness others stepped forward to bash the bill and the bill was defeated, never to be heard from again. I remember seeing her dejected face after the vote and as she walked away from the gallery, one of my colleagues was yelling at me, playfully, that I was cold-hearted.

My response was that she had her fifteen minutes, now we need to go to work. However, I did feel kind of bad, but I knew I took the right stance. Animals and humans were designed by God to co-exist, but not to have all of them domesticated. Animals are really created to survive their natural environment. Humans have encroached so much of their space, that instances like the aforementioned deer story could be more common. We have to control ourselves and realize our limitations in our relationships with the other creations of God.

Deers, lions, alligators, tigers and chimpanzees are not pets. They are living creatures that need to be in their habitat, not ours.