Special Issue "Pets, People and Policies"

A special issue of Animals (ISSN 2076-2615). This special issue belongs to the section "Public Policy, Politics and Law".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (30 September 2020).

Special Issue Editor

Dr. Clifford Warwick
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Emergent Disease Foundation, Suite 114, 80 Churchill Square Business Centre, Kings Hill, Kent ME19 4YU, UK
Interests: exotic pets; domesticated pets; animal welfare; species conservation; ecological conservation; public health and safety; amelioratory policy

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Several key issues, including animal welfare, species conservation, public health and safety, ecological conservation, education, and related policies are relevant to the supply and keeping of domesticated and exotic pets. Divisions of these issues may include: the general suitability or unsuitability of species and individuals to captivity; biological and husbandry needs; production, handling, storage and transportation methods; diversity of species or types traded and kept; population control; sustainability of wild collection; invasive species; human health benefits of pet ownership; human-zoonotic infection; antimicrobial resistance; human-injuries; positive and negative educational outcomes; governmental and nongovernmental policies on regulating, monitoring and controlling all aspects of pet trading and keeping.

This Special Issue welcomes original contributions that relate to any key or divisional aspect, provided that submissions include a subject summary review and that the primary focus, conclusions or recommendations consider approaches that are potentially amelioratory towards problematic situations; example amelioratory approaches include education, voluntary agreements, legal frameworks, policy structure or other concepts or principles for the improvement of any recognised issue. Accordingly, the focus of this series will be novel concepts and principles for ‘problem solving’ in all key areas of interest.

Dr. Clifford Warwick
Guest Editor

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Animals is an international peer-reviewed open access monthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1800 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • Domesticated pets
  • Exotic pets
  • Animal welfare
  • Species conservation
  • Ecological conservation
  • Public health and safety
  • Amelioratory policy

Published Papers (9 papers)

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Research

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Article
Amelioration of Pet Overpopulation and Abandonment Using Control of Breeding and Sale, and Compulsory Owner Liability Insurance
Animals 2021, 11(2), 524; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani11020524 - 18 Feb 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1376
Abstract
Overpopulation and abandonment of pets are long-standing and burgeoning concerns that involve uncontrolled breeding and selling, illegal trafficking, overpopulation, and pet safety and well-being issues. Abandonment of pets creates numerous negative externalities and multimillion-dollar costs, in addition to severe consequences and problems concerning [...] Read more.
Overpopulation and abandonment of pets are long-standing and burgeoning concerns that involve uncontrolled breeding and selling, illegal trafficking, overpopulation, and pet safety and well-being issues. Abandonment of pets creates numerous negative externalities and multimillion-dollar costs, in addition to severe consequences and problems concerning animal welfare (e.g., starvation, untreated disease, climatic extremes, uncertainty of rescue and adoption), ecological (e.g., invasive species and introduction of novel pathogens), public health and safety (e.g., risks to people from bites, zoonoses, or road hazards), and economic (e.g., financial burdens for governmental and nongovernmental organizations). These interwoven problems persist for several reasons, including the following: (1) lack of an efficient system for the prevention of abandonment and overpopulation, (2) lack of regulatory liability for pet owners, (3) lack of legal alternative to abandonment. This article proposes a novel comprehensive management system for amelioration of overpopulation and abandonment of pets aimed to tackle the current supply and demand dysfunction of the pet market and provide a legal alternative to abandonment. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Pets, People and Policies)
Communication
Pet Macaques in Vietnam: An NGO’s Perspective
Animals 2021, 11(1), 60; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani11010060 - 30 Dec 2020
Viewed by 1165
Abstract
In this article, we attempt to characterize the widespread trade in pet macaques in Vietnam. Data on confiscations as well as surrenders, releases, and individuals housed at rescue centers across Vietnam for 2015–2019 were opportunistically recorded. Data comparisons between Education for Nature Vietnam [...] Read more.
In this article, we attempt to characterize the widespread trade in pet macaques in Vietnam. Data on confiscations as well as surrenders, releases, and individuals housed at rescue centers across Vietnam for 2015–2019 were opportunistically recorded. Data comparisons between Education for Nature Vietnam and three government-run wildlife rescue centers show that at least 1254 cases of macaque keeping occurred during the study period, including a minimum of 32 Assamese macaques (Macaca assamensis), 158 long-tailed macaques (Macaca fascicularis), 291 Northern pig-tailed macaques (Macaca leonina), 65 rhesus macaques (Macaca mulatta), and 110 stump-tailed macaques (Macaca arctoides). A minimum of 423 individuals were confiscated, and at least 490 individual macaques were released. Three semi-structured interviews were conducted with two key Animals Asia (a non-governmental organization) colleagues and their insights are presented. Although we recognize that the data included are limited and can serve only as a baseline for the scale of the macaque pet trade in Vietnam, we believe that they support our concern that the problem is significant and must be addressed. We stress the need for organizations and authorities to work together to better understand the issue. The keeping of macaques as pets is the cause of serious welfare and conservation issues in Vietnam. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Pets, People and Policies)
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Communication
Trading Tactics: Time to Rethink the Global Trade in Wildlife
Animals 2020, 10(12), 2456; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani10122456 - 21 Dec 2020
Cited by 7 | Viewed by 3308
Abstract
The Covid-19 outbreak has brought about fresh and intensified scrutiny of the wildlife trade, which substantively involves commerce in exotic pets. In response, major policy decisions involving trade bans have ensued, with calls for similar such action to be applied across the trade [...] Read more.
The Covid-19 outbreak has brought about fresh and intensified scrutiny of the wildlife trade, which substantively involves commerce in exotic pets. In response, major policy decisions involving trade bans have ensued, with calls for similar such action to be applied across the trade chain. Yet, these measures have been criticised, largely based on concerns that they risk exacerbating poverty, undermining human rights, damaging conservation incentives, and otherwise harming sustainable development and conservation efforts. Instead, many critics propose improved regulation of the status quo, with the intention of nurturing a legal, sustainable, safe, humane, and equitable wildlife trade. Herein, we provide a countering view that outlines how the risks presented by the wildlife trade are becoming increasingly recognised as being both manifold and severe; and raise concerns that the goal of a well-regulated wildlife trade is becoming increasingly exposed as a mirage. We conclude that while pursuing the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals (with their focus on poverty alleviation, food security, public health, and conservation) is enduringly vital, a flourishing wildlife trade is not. Given that the exploitation of wildlife, including for the pet trade, has been identified as one of the dominant drivers of biodiversity loss, emergence of zoonotic infectious disease, animal suffering, and financial instability, perpetuating the concept of utilising a regulated wildlife trade as the default approach to protect people and planet is in urgent need of re-evaluation. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Pets, People and Policies)
Article
On the Record: An Analysis of Exotic Pet Licences in the UK
Animals 2020, 10(12), 2373; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani10122373 - 10 Dec 2020
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 2073
Abstract
Keeping exotic pets has become a popular habit in the UK in recent decades. Yet, information on the current scale of the trade and the diversity of animals involved is lacking. Here, we review the licensed sale of amphibians, reptiles, birds, and mammals [...] Read more.
Keeping exotic pets has become a popular habit in the UK in recent decades. Yet, information on the current scale of the trade and the diversity of animals involved is lacking. Here, we review the licensed sale of amphibians, reptiles, birds, and mammals as exotic pets in the UK, identifying current geographical hotspots of trader activity, data gaps, and compliance issues related to this trade. In terms of trade volume, records showed large numbers of individual wild animals, across a wide range of species groups, are being legally sold in the UK. Maximum numbers of exotic pets permitted for sale included 54,634 amphibians, 64,810 reptiles, 23,507 birds, and 6479 mammals. Moreover, nearly 2000 pet traders located in 283 different local authority areas had permission to sell exotic pets. The scope and scale of the trade draws additional attention to the substantial animal welfare challenges associated with it, and our review serves to highlight several shortcomings associated with the licensed exotic pet trade in the UK. Pet shop licences often lacked detailed information about the specific type and number of animals permitted for sale, which raises compliance concerns and hinders efforts to carry out adequate inspection and monitoring. Ninety-five pet traders in England had been given a one star rating, indicating ‘minor failings’ in animal welfare, and some local authorities in England were still operating under the old Pet Animals Act (1951). We recommend that resources should be prioritised and focused towards local authorities in England that are not operating under the new Animal Welfare (Licensing of Activities Involving Animals) (England) Regulations (2018), and that local authorities should improve data reporting on all licenses issued to aid inspection and monitoring. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Pets, People and Policies)
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Article
Turning Negatives into Positives for Pet Trading and Keeping: A Review of Positive Lists
Animals 2020, 10(12), 2371; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani10122371 - 10 Dec 2020
Cited by 9 | Viewed by 2348
Abstract
The trading and keeping of exotic pets are associated with animal welfare, conservation, environmental protection, agricultural animal health, and public health concerns and present serious regulatory challenges to legislators and enforcers. Most legislation concerning exotic pet trading and keeping involves restricting or banning [...] Read more.
The trading and keeping of exotic pets are associated with animal welfare, conservation, environmental protection, agricultural animal health, and public health concerns and present serious regulatory challenges to legislators and enforcers. Most legislation concerning exotic pet trading and keeping involves restricting or banning problematic species, a practice known as “negative listing”. However, an alternative approach adopted by some governments permits only the keeping of animals that meet certain scientifically proven criteria as suitable in respect of species, environmental, and public health and safety protections. We conducted an evaluation of positive lists for the regulation of pet trading and keeping within the context of the more prevalent system of restricting or prohibiting species via negative lists. Our examination of international, national, and regional regulations in Europe, the United States, and Canada found that criteria used for the development of both negative and positive lists were inconsistent or non-specific. Our online surveys of governments received limited responses, although telephone interviews with officials from governments either considering or developing positive lists provided useful insights into their attitudes and motivations towards adopting positive lists. We discuss key issues raised by civil servants including perceived advantages of positive lists and anticipated challenges when developing lists of suitable species. In addition, we compare functions of negative and positive lists, and recommend key principles that we hope will be helpful to governments concerning development and implementation of regulations based on positive lists. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Pets, People and Policies)
Article
How to Handle Your Dragon: Does Handling Duration Affect the Behaviour of Bearded Dragons (Pogona Vitticeps)?
Animals 2020, 10(11), 2116; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani10112116 - 15 Nov 2020
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 2173
Abstract
Reptiles are popular as pets and it is, therefore, important to understand how different aspects of housing and husbandry impact on their behaviour and welfare. One potential cause of stress in captive reptiles is interaction with humans; in particular, the effect of handling. [...] Read more.
Reptiles are popular as pets and it is, therefore, important to understand how different aspects of housing and husbandry impact on their behaviour and welfare. One potential cause of stress in captive reptiles is interaction with humans; in particular, the effect of handling. However, little research on handling has been carried out with reptiles, particularly relating to the type of gentle handling likely to be experienced by pet animals. The aim of this study was therefore to determine whether the amount of time that bearded dragons (Pogona vitticeps), a commonly kept pet species, experienced gentle handling induced no or differing levels of anxiety, as reflected in their subsequent behavioural response to novelty. We found that there appeared to be a mildly aversive effect of handling time on subsequent behavioural response to novelty. Longer durations of handling (5 min or 15 min) appeared to increase anxiety-related behaviour, with handled animals showing more frequent tongue flicking behaviour when they experienced a novel environment and reduced time spent in close proximity to a novel object. These results suggest that handling bearded dragons, even in a gentle way, may increase their anxiety. However, it is not yet known whether animals may habituate to handling for longer periods if provided with additional experience. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Pets, People and Policies)
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Article
The Rush for the Rare: Reptiles and Amphibians in the European Pet Trade
Animals 2020, 10(11), 2085; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani10112085 - 10 Nov 2020
Cited by 9 | Viewed by 2416
Abstract
Direct exploitation is one of the five main reasons for the loss of biodiversity, and collections for the international pet trade are an ongoing threat for many reptiles and amphibians. The European Union and in particular Germany have a central role as a [...] Read more.
Direct exploitation is one of the five main reasons for the loss of biodiversity, and collections for the international pet trade are an ongoing threat for many reptiles and amphibians. The European Union and in particular Germany have a central role as a hub and destination for exotic pets from all over the world. Rare species of reptiles and amphibians especially are in the focus of collectors. Rarity on the market may be either caused by rarity of a species in the wild or by a limited availability for sale, e.g., due to national protection measures in the range state or remote localities. The present study identified 43 species that are not listed by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) and were only recently described, but have already entered the European pet trade. Ten of these species were selected as case studies, representing species from different geographic regions and illustrating the marketing mechanisms. Many such species that are new to science are neither assessed by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species nor are they covered by international legislation, even though in several countries, where such internationally sought-after species are caught, national protection measures are in place. This paper analyses the challenges and opportunities for the protection of potentially threatened and newly described reptile and amphibian species against over-exploitation for the pet trade. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Pets, People and Policies)
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Article
Risky Business: Live Non-CITES Wildlife UK Imports and the Potential for Infectious Diseases
Animals 2020, 10(9), 1632; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani10091632 - 11 Sep 2020
Cited by 7 | Viewed by 3691
Abstract
International wildlife trade is recognised as a major transmission pathway for the movement of pathogenic organisms around the world. The UK is an active consumer of non-native live wild animals and is therefore subject to the risks posed by pathogen pollution from imported [...] Read more.
International wildlife trade is recognised as a major transmission pathway for the movement of pathogenic organisms around the world. The UK is an active consumer of non-native live wild animals and is therefore subject to the risks posed by pathogen pollution from imported wildlife. Here, we characterise a key yet overlooked portion of the UK wildlife import market. We evaluate the trade in live non-CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species) wild terrestrial animals entering the UK over a 5-year period using data reported by the Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA). Between 2014 and 2018, over 48 million individual animals, across five taxonomic classes and 24 taxonomic orders, were imported into the UK from 90 countries across nine global regions. The largest volumes of wild animals were imported from North America and Asia, and most of the import records were from Europe and Africa. Excluding Columbiformes (pigeons) and Galliformes (‘game birds’), amphibians were the most imported taxonomic class (73%), followed by reptiles (17%), mammals (4%), birds (3%), and arachnids (<1%). The records described herein provide insight into the scope and scale of non-CITES listed wildlife imported in to the UK. We describe the potential for pathogen pollution from these vast and varied wildlife imports and highlight the potential threats they pose to public health. We also draw attention to the lack of detail in the UK wildlife import records, which limits its ability to help prevent and manage introduced infectious diseases. We recommend that improved record keeping and reporting could prove beneficial in this regard. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Pets, People and Policies)
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Review

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Review
A Systematic Review of the Ornamental Fish Trade with Emphasis on Coral Reef Fishes—An Impossible Task
Animals 2020, 10(11), 2014; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani10112014 - 01 Nov 2020
Cited by 9 | Viewed by 2198
Abstract
The multi-billion dollar trade in ornamental fishes has rarely been reliably monitored. Almost all coral reef fishes are wild-caught, and few scientific analyses have attempted to elicit exact quantities and identify species involved. The consequences of the removal of millions of these fishes [...] Read more.
The multi-billion dollar trade in ornamental fishes has rarely been reliably monitored. Almost all coral reef fishes are wild-caught, and few scientific analyses have attempted to elicit exact quantities and identify species involved. The consequences of the removal of millions of these fishes are poorly understood. This article collates and examines available information, including scientific studies and formal publications, in order to create a more accurate picture of this commerce. We demonstrate that it is almost impossible to analyse the trade in marine ornamental fishes due to a lack of data, and that available data for marine species is frequently combined with that for freshwater species. Figures range from 15 to 30 million coral reef fishes being traded annually, but could be as high as 150 million specimens. The global value of this trade was only estimated for 1976 and 1999 between USD 28–40 million. This review highlights the urgent need to introduce a specific harmonised system tariff code and for a global monitoring system, such as the Trade Control and Expert System already in use in Europe, in order to gather accurate and timely information on the number and species of marine ornamental fishes in commerce, where specimens originated, and whether they were wild-caught or captive-bred. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Pets, People and Policies)
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