WHILE the world has not yet seen the end to the SARS epidemic, we now read that cases of monkeypox have surfaced in the United States.
This disease, which affects animals, has apparently spread to humans, not unlike the case of SARS.
Authorities are now acting to ban the consumption of exotic meat with the discovery that SARS could have originated from contact with or through consumption of exotic animals.
But how about the pet industry? With increasing affluence and the craving for something “different,” the animal trade has creatively supplied people with pets other than the usual dog, cat or rabbit.
Reptiles, rodents, primates, arachnids and insects now live in the comfort of urban homes.
Which authority regulates this trade and industry?
Are there any health checks on these animals?
Indeed, even if there are so-called health checks on animals, how does a veterinarian certify an exotic imported animal as “fit and healthy” when one does not even know what diseases to look out for in them?
A wake-up call has been issued – official and comprehensive oversight or regulation on the import and dissemination of exotic animals is needed.
Surely nobody wants to tackle another global health threat like SARS, nor do we want to find that exotic diseases have jumped to and become entrenched in our native wildlife or, worse, our livestock?
To our government, please look into this issue.
To the general public: be sensible if you have an exotic pet. Please take care of it well and do not dump it when you find you are no longer interested in it.
If you are thinking of acquiring an exotic pet, please reconsider and make a thoroughly informed decision rather than just wanting to be “different.”
Let's face it. Many Malaysians have a long way to go in becoming responsible pet owners. Just look at all the stray cats and dogs on the streets.