I hope I will write more about this topic, here and in other forums, but I wanted to send something today. I'd be happy to discuss the situation and all the ways that this law is bad (far more than I could put into a short web message) if anyone is interested.
Please OPPOSE H.R. 5909, Haley’s Act, when it comes before the Agriculture Committee, and on the floor of the House if necessary.
This is a terrible law for far more reasons than I can include in this message, but the most important reason it should be stopped is that it is an attack on the fundamental freedom America was founded to preserve -- the right to the pursuit of happiness. I have been lucky enough in my life to have spent a few hours handling baby tigers, and these are the happiest hours I've known in my life. This misguided law would make it illegal for me to ever have that experience again, and more importantly, it would deny anyone else the chance to have that experience.
This law is being proposed in response to the tragic case in Kansas where 17 year old Haley Hildebrant was apparently pressured into posing with a full-grown tiger instead of the tiger cubs she had planned to pose with. The tiger killed her. While this is certainly a tragedy, it cannot be made better with Federal legislation. The actions of the tiger owner were already in violation of existing USDA rules and, I believe, state criminal statutes about reckless endangerment. It is also an isolated incident; since 1990, there have only been 16 people killed in the US by captive big cats, and nearly all of them were the owners or professional handlers of the animals, not members of the general public. This law is absolutely not needed to protect public safety; public safety is not at risk and this law doesn't do anything to protect it.
All Haley's Act would do is deny the public the chance to appreciate these animals in person -- not only when it would be dangerous, which is already illegal, but also when it would be perfectly safe. If it becomes law, we all lose -- the public, animal exhibitors, and the animals themselves -- and nobody gains anything.
I hope you will use your position on the Agriculture Committee to stop this unnecessary and misguided law. Please contact me by email, telephone, or regular mail if I can provide any more information.
Thank you for your consideration,
Philip T. Parker