Exotic pets are becoming increasingly popular. Looking for options beyond the classic cat and dog, Texans are seeking companionship from less likely sources: sugar gliders, ferrets, and exotic birds top the list of offbeat pets for owners. Some people look for even grander animals: tigers and bears, for example. Is owning such animals legal? The short answer: yes, but here’s why it’s best to save them for visits to the zoo.
Exotic Animal Laws in Texas
Exotic animal ownership laws in Texas are some of the most lenient in the country. Possession and regulation of exotic animals are controlled by the Texas Department of Parks and Wildlife. To own a tiger or other large cat in Texas, all you have to do is qualify for a permit. So who is eligible for a permit to own a tiger under Texas law? Just about anyone. To have your permit approved, you must prove you can properly cage and provide for the tiger as a pet.
Because of the lack of regulation, there are an estimated 2000 tigers residing in the Lone Star State, meaning the tiger population in Texas is second only to India, where tigers are an indigenous species. Some of these tigers are well kept and cared for, while others are forced to live in deplorable conditions. In our state, it’s possible to buy a tiger for less than a thousand dollars, the same price as some purebred dogs. With regulations so lax, it’s tempting to buy your own personal tiger, but ownership comes with real risks.
Why Save Your Tigers for the Zoo
Tigers are wild animals, and since they haven’t been domesticated over several generations like dogs or housecats, they pose a serious threat to humans. Texas police departments have been bogged down with capturing tigers on the run. In Harris County, police recently had to chase down a pair of Siberian tigers after they escaped from a local yard.
Children are especially susceptible to tiger attacks. “You can have 10 adults standing in front of the cage and one small child and the Tigers will not take their eyes off that small child,” said Lewis Rathburn, former police chief in Dallas. “They really see children as prey, not as people.” In a recent incident, a 3-year-old lost his arm when he stuck it into his uncle’s tiger’s cage. It took doctors 10 hours to reattach.
Because of the recent rash of incidents, lawmakers are considering overhauls to the current law. Among the provisions on the docket are minimum caging requirements and liability insurance. Hopefully, this will encourage owners to view tigers less as loveable pets, and more like wild animals.
Personal Injury Claims from Animal Attacks
Exotic pets like tigers may not be regulated in Texas, but they still pose a threat to the safety of the general public. Wild animals can transmit serious diseases to humans as well as commit serious bodily harm. Pet owners are still responsible for the actions of their animals, so if you’ve been injured by an exotic animal, you’re entitled to compensation for your injuries. A fair settlement can help you pay for medical procedures and compensate for missed work time. More often than not, our cases settle out of court, so you can receive a settlement without the hassle of a trial.
For a review of your personal injury case, contact our office for a free case evaluation. One of our Houston personal injury attorneys will assess your situation, risk-free, to advise you of the next steps.
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