Opinion

Editorial: Animal ban is a law too far

In proposing an exotic animal ban, the Oak Harbor City Council is extending the long arm of the law into areas where it should have very limited interest.

The overriding principle of all people in position to create laws should be that the U.S. was founded as a free country and, without solid justification, you should never act to reduce people’s freedom.

Like any freedom, the ability to own exotic animals can be abused. But once the lawmaking process begins, it’s like a runaway truck — how do you stop it? Already, the proposed animal ban includes such creatures as non-domestic felines, bears, monkeys, alligators, emus, ostriches, elk, and more. Had this law been in effect in ancient times, Noah would have had to toss half his passengers overboard.

If Oak Harbor has ever had a problem with alligators, for example, we and most other citizens are ignorant of it. Did an alligator attack go unreported at Windjammer Park? And even if it did, is it likely to happen again? If not, then we probably don’t need a law to outlaw alligators.

Most foreseeable animal problems can be addressed with existing nuisance, health and sanitation ordinances, and perhaps we need to tweak the noise ordinance to make sure it covers howling hybrid wolves, shrieking moneys and roaring mountain lions. What we don’t need is a long list of banned animals.

The one specific concern about exotic animals expressed by a council member was that police may have to deal with a such an animal when going about their law enforcement business. One can imagine a rattlesnake guarding a cache of meth, perhaps, but the police would probably prefer more snakes in town and fewer meth users. Snakes are much safer to handle.

The urge to tell other people how to live their lives is ingrained in many lawmakers, but they should resist the urge in favor of freedom. Don’t pass laws dealing with problems that don’t really exist.

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