Brian White | May 23, 2016 | Texas Laws
Exotic pet ownership is becoming a popular trend here in Texas. If you are looking to go beyond the everyday dog or cat, your options abound: sugar gliders, exotic birds, and even tigers are options here in the Lone Star State. Is it legal to own exotic animals like sloths and bears in our state? Yes, but consider a few factors before diving in.
Texas Exotic Animal Ownership Laws
If you want to own an exotic pet, you are in the right state. Texas has some of the most lenient animal ownership laws in the nation. While possession and regulation of animals is controlled by the Texas Department of Parks and Wildlife, almost anything goes. But if you want to own a sloth, you will need a permit. To apply and qualify for a permit, simply prove that you can properly care for and house your animal of choice.
Due to the lack of regulation, there are more exotic animals in Texas than any other state, according to the American Human Society. Sloths and other exotic pets pay the price for these lax rules, however. Consider the case of Sophia—a two-toed sloth residing in Austin, Texas—before you head to your nearest pet store.
Sophia the Sloth and the Problem With Exotic Pets
Despite their sweet and snuggly appearance, sloths are wild animals, lacking the domestication over generations characteristic of cats and dogs. While not superficially hostile, they still can bite humans. Sloths are indigenous to South and Central America, where they live in rainforests and similar environments. They need a lot of room to wander as well as a specialized diet.
Sophia the sloth is a rescue that resides at Zoo Keeper Exotic Pets. She serves as an educational tool for any prospective exotic pet owner. Though Sophia may look huggable, she cannot be held. She also requires up to three acres of land to explore and plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables to eat. Since sloths can live up to 30 years in captivity, she’s a major time investment.
“We try to dissuade people from wanting to keep [sloths],” Daniel Keeper, owner of Zoo Keeper Exotic Pets, told the Statesmen. “This one just happened to be here, so we made the best of the situation, but we tell people that they do not make good pets. Because they really do not … with size comes more food, more space, more poop, more maintenance. Everything is amplified with bigger animals.”
Owning an exotic pet can also make you liable for their behavior. If your sloth were to bite someone, the victim may be eligible to collect damages, even if you made reasonable efforts to prevent the attack from happening. This is a legal precedent known as strict liability.
Exotic Animal Attacks and Your Personal Injury Claim
While not strictly regulated in Texas, sloths still pose a safety threat. Even if the biting potential is low, wild animals like sloths can transmit diseases. If you have been injured or fallen ill because of an exotic pet, you are eligible to file a personal injury claim. Hospital bills and missed time from work take a financial toll. A fair settlement will help you pay your expenses on time and provide compensation for any emotional trauma.
At the Law Offices of Brian White, we try to settle cases out of court, without the hassle and cost of a trial. We are also not afraid to follow a case through to the end if it means getting you the compensation you deserve. Call our office for a free initial consultation. We will review the specifics of your case and help you determine next steps. Do not pay the price for someone else’s negligence.