The National Reptile & Amphibian Advisory Council (NRAAC) is a not-for-profit educational organization, staffed and run by volunteers, dedicated to producing an annual symposium on laws, rules, and regulations regarding reptiles and amphibians at the local, state, national, and international levels.
Our goal is bringing together people interested in reptiles, amphibians, and the law, whether they are pet owners, breeders, stores, businesses, rescues, rehabiltators, educators, researchers, zoological institutions, herpetolgical organizations, or government agencies,to discuss the impact of law and regulation on the keeping, breeding, care, and conservation of reptiles and amphibians. To get involved, please join our working group on Facebook.
At the recent National Reptile and Amphibians and the Law Symposium in Washington, DC, a group of panelists and attendees came together to discuss the role of shelters and rescue groups in working with herps.
What follows are comments from USARK President Phil Goss and the members of the session panel on their impressions of the group, the role of herp rescue, and how to advance the cause of these animals in the herp community.
Reptile and amphibian rescues and shelters play crucial roles in the herp community. Occasionally, animals must be surrendered due to new overreaching laws, job loss, family relocation or other reasons.
Shelters that rehome dogs and cats do not have the knowledge to care for non-traditional pets. This is when herp rescues are needed. They are always under-funded and work tirelessly running only on a true passion for these animals.
If you can, reach out to these rescues. Maybe you can donate a few hours of labor or have a connection for free produce or care products. Promoting and spreading awareness about good rescues is also greatly helpful. Being a supportive member of the herp community means assisting and educating about all corners of our world, and rescues
certainly need more attention and appreciation.
Do not donate to national organizations posing as animal welfare groups who send very little money to actually help animals. Donate locally and know where your time and money are going. Thank you to all the reputable rescues out there doing good work.
While the reptile rescue community is still fairly small, it encompasses a lot more than the dog and cat world does.
We have a variety of issues above and beyond the standard breed discriminatory laws that may be in place, and at times we do not have the ability to help because our hands are legally tied. It was refreshing to hear that not only your normal rescuers are working to rehome animals, but also those who benefit directly from the sale of animals as pets and livestock.
Having a state agency represented who could answer some specific questions on their state was wonderful and we hope that we have given USARK a new perspective on the reptile community as a whole. The work rescuers do is just as integral to the community as the animals the breeders create and sell and the people who buy the animals.
The session went well and I was glad to see at least a handful of people who sincerely were interested in the animals and not their own profit from sales of the animals.
The theme of the discussion was that reptile rescue needs to work on developing relationships with the local authority that enforces the laws regarding reptiles/amphibians and who in fact seize and/or receive these animals. This can be difficult to determine because the local laws are often confusing and turn on whether the animal is an exotic or a native species. Much education is necessary on both the animals themselves and which category they fall into in any jurisdiction as well as on the local laws.
Additionally the reptile rescues need to develop a network of fosters and adopters to help place the animals in good loving homes where their needs are met. Although the laws can be different and of course reptiles and amphibians as species are different from dogs and cats, we may be able to learn from the dog/cat rescue groups and perhaps reaching out to these groups could be helpful.
Further, it would be helpful to create an on-line resource where rescues could reach out to other rescues nationwide as sometimes placement may be available in other states. Of course the laws must be carefully considered to determine where animals may be placed.
Finally, several people explained the difficulties of having laws change on them, outlawing certain species when they have these species and then in a position of not knowing what to do with the animals. This must be addressed (lobbied) in each jurisdiction when the laws are being considered so that lawmakers understand the difficulties they are creating and that the interests of the individual animals are taken into account.
I thought the panel went well, overall. I'd have loved to have had more people there, but I was actually surprised at how many were there -- I had visions of there being no one there at all!
I enjoyed Christie Keith's input on things from a no-kill viewpoint, and a general animal welfare view. Cindy Steinle and I have the reptile vantage point, but sometimes having that narrow focus keeps us from seeing the wider picture. She really helped open that lens a couple of times.
I was thrilled that Phil Goss from USARK was there, and even more thrilled when he said he'd be interested in helping with a national reptile rescue effort. I really, really hope he can follow through with that. I no longer have the time and energy to spearhead it, but I do have the passion for helping.
I'd also love to get other rescues to step forward and take part in getting the word out to people about how law changes can drastically affect them, when they suddenly get hundreds of animals dumped on them because the animals are banned.
Last, one of my fondest wishes would be for there to be a national conference for reptile rescues. I don't know how many would participate, but it would be great to start it and see how it grows.
I don't have a double standard for reptiles and amphibians vs. dogs, cats, or other more mainstream pets when it comes to rescue and sheltering: If you kill an animal who is healthy or treatable, you haven't "rescued" that animal. I'd like to see the reptile community come together and adopt the best practices of successful shelters and rescue groups, and show the laggards how it's done.
It was a pleasure to be on this panel and hear from so many rescuers who really walk the talk when it comes to saving the lives of these animals. I look forward to great things from this community, and was particularly excited at USARK's interest in promoting reptile and amphibian rescue and sheltering.
The National Reptile and Amphibian Advisory Council needs your help!
First, we'd like to thank the Association of Reptile and Amphibian Veterinarians and Wayne Hill of the National Reptile Breeders Expo in Daytona Beach for each contributing $500 toward the costs of the 2014 law symposium, held earlier this month in Washington, D.C.
In total NRAAC needs to raise an additional $4,787.97 to cover the costs of putting on this year's event.
Our expenses were as follows:
$ 2,907.97 Printing and design, programs, posters, badges
$ 150.00 Shipping
$ 2,730.00 Event food and beverage service
$ 5787.97 Total
NRAAC and the co-hosts would like to thank George Washington University Law School for making their facilities available to us to hold our 2014 law event at no cost. But we'd very much appreciate your help with covering the remaining expenses. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org if you want to help!
If you're coming to the Second Annual Reptiles and Amphibians Legal Symposium in Washington, DC, March 7-8, you should have received an email with the schedule, location, and other details. If not, here's everything you need to know!
First, if you want to attend, registration is still available for this free event, or you can simply walk up. While there's no registration fee, space is limited; email us at email@example.com if you have questions.
The event will be held at George Washington University Law School, Lerner Hall Room LL101, 2000 H Street, Washington D.C. 20052.
Registration and check-in start the morning of Friday, March 7, at 7 AM, and runs until 5 PM that day. Registration and check-in are open Saturday, March 8, from 8 AM to 10 AM only. There will be coffee, muffins, and fruit.
Here is the schedule of panels:
Day 1 - Friday, March 7, 2014
7 AM-5 PM: Registration and Check-In
8-10 AM: CITES and International Trade in Reptiles and Amphibians
10 AM-noon: CITES and Endangered Species Act Permitting
Noon: Lunch Break
1-3 PM: Organisms in Trade and Invasive Species Issues
3-5 PM: Endangered Species & Conservation
Day 2 - Saturday, March 8, 2014
7 AM-5 PM: Registration and Check-In
9-10 AM: Salmonella and its Impact on the Law
9-10 AM:The Role of Rescue and the Shelter System (Room S301)
10-11 AM: Food & Feeder Health, Safety, & Regulation
11 AM-noon: Chytrid and its Impact on the Law
Noon: Lunch Break
1-3 PM: State Laws on Reptiles & Amphibians