Would you support 'Haley's Act'?

the_adamsMay 14, 2007

In 2005 Haley Hilderbrand was killed by a 550 pound Siberean Tiger. Haley was 17 years old.

She was having her picture taken with this well behaved tiger. Or so they thought.

While visting the Lost Creek Animal Sanctuary Haley was having her picture taken with the tiger, just as many high school senior have done in her area for years. The Lost Creek Animal Sancturary did this despite of current USDA regulations that require exhibitors of big cats to keep adequate distance or barriers between the animals and the viewing public.

The sancturary had the tiger restrained by a leash held by a trainer. Pound for pound tigers are 12 times stronger then man, a leash held by man is grossly inadeaquete.

Haley's Act would specifically prohibit direct contact between big cats and members of the public.

Also, it would raise the fee for violating the Animal Welfare Act from $2,500 - $10,000.

Some say these fines and regulations will put many out of business. Some call it unconstitutional because it only allows zoos acredited by the American Zoo and Aquarium Association to display large baby cats under 16 weeks of age, thus allowing for a monopoly. Others say this is just sensationalism, since there have only been 17 deaths caused by large cats since 1990 (1 per year). They say the educational benefits to children far outweigh these deaths. They argue that the CDC reports that in 2003 53,500 deaths were caused to those between the ages of 0-19 by toys, pools, cars, bicycles, boating, sports, etc., yet there is no fedral law against these.

Surprisingly, the Feline Conservation Federation is also not supporting this bill. Instead they are supporting a budget increase for the USDA so manpower can be increased to properly inspect facilities and place proper punishment. Lynn Culver, the president of FCF, has stated that she believes "it is the ability to touch such incredibly beautiful and intelligent young felines that fills our hearts with love for nature and motivates us to value and protect it."

However, a budget increase for the USDA does not mean it will all be applied to Animal Welfare, and certainly not directly for big cat facilities, as the USDA has many departments.

What do you think?

Here is a link that might be useful: Support Haley's Act

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I don't follow the logic in how having a photo taken with a big cat is educational to children.

Is this animal sanctuary a true sanctuary using the money to fund its operation? Or is it a for-profit outfit that makes big bucks taking these photos?

Is it really fair to the wild animal to have to sit on a leash next to a stranger? There may not be hundreds of deaths but there could be a lot more incidences of the cats reacting badly to someone that aren't reported.

I guess I just don't see the thrill in sitting next to a big cat. I would much rather see the cat in a setting that is more natural to how it would live in the wild. I can admire it and learn from it from afar without jeopardizing my life or my children's lives.

I can't see a reason not to support Haley's Act from what I have read.

    Bookmark   May 15, 2007 at 3:12PM
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I remember this story and this sanctuary. I really think that big cats should not be hugged on sat on or whatever by the general public. I don't care how many years the HS has been using them for photos with no problem. It's just wrong and dangerous.These are wild animals.

    Bookmark   May 16, 2007 at 1:32AM
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I'm afraid it will increase more breeding of cubs for photo ops....

    Bookmark   June 14, 2007 at 8:05PM
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Haley's Act would outlaw any general public contact with large breed cats, regardless of age. Were you thinking of only full grown animals or do you still think this is a risk? If yes, how so? What would encourage it?

    Bookmark   June 15, 2007 at 4:03AM
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I cannot agree that touching a big cat teaches us to be conservationists. I agree with Share OH that seeing an animal in a more natural setting shows us their majesty and gives us respect for them. Treating them like big stuffed animals gives us no knowledge of their needs, of their natural ways, or their place in the ecosystem. Sometimes you have to make laws to protect people from themselves, and this may be one of them. One could be catty (pun intended) and say that people dumb enough to cuddle a tiger are too dumb to be anything but cat food, but an innocent teen was killed, not the guy making money off the cat. Fine him into getting a job in the 7/11!!

    Bookmark   June 15, 2007 at 9:45PM
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There is a "dangerous animal" law that is being debated in NC. It is a very poorly written law however. It doesn't truly define what constitutes a "dangerous animal" except to list several species and then to say that they are only examples- ie open to interpretation. Species like turtles, big cats, venemous snakes, bears, and such are on the current list. The law applies to the entire state and makes no exceptions for zoos, conservation parks, and the like. So I cannot support that law. Not only that, but there are no provisions for enforcement.

I would be more supportive of a law that established a permit and inspection system for the welfare of the animal and for public safety. For example, if you wanted to own a lion, you would have to ask for a permit. The process would include details on how you would keep the animal, how you would feed it, provisions for emergencies (we are in severe thunderstorm, flood, and hurricaine territory), etc. Then the property would be inspected before the permit would be issued. You would also be subject to surprise inspections from that point onwards. I would also like to see a special insurance that would have to be purchased. And the law would have to be very clear on what species are "inherently dangerous animals." When it comes down to it, humans are the most dangerous of all animals, but there is no law against them!

    Bookmark   July 3, 2007 at 5:31PM
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Yeah, I could support a law banning any ownership of wild animals---excepting zoos, wildlife refuges, and breeding research facilities. Circus' might be included in that also, depending on the circus.

I raised baby raccoons and opossums in my youth---finding abandoned animals. I never tried to make them a pet and always released them when I felt they were old enough to be self sufficient.

Just never saw any sense in keeping a wild animal caged----especially when there are so many domesticated animals needing homes or care.

    Bookmark   July 17, 2007 at 1:43AM
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Existing regulations already cover this kind of thing. I don't see the point in letting random people play with big cats, but don't see the point of another law in response to something that could have been prevented simply by following existing regulations.

    Bookmark   July 17, 2007 at 9:36PM
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I recently came across a very informative website that's relevant to this post. From it, I learned that most of the places that tout themselves as "sanctuaries" are nothing but breeding facilities who are in it for money. They are not really rescuing existing cats from bad situations at all, even though there are plenty of these to go around. No, they want cubs who can be used in photo ops with the public for a fee. Once they are too old to handle, they become in need of new homes themselves and most end up being euthanized or used in canned hunts.

I don't object to large well-kept zoos displaying animals in family groups and in habitats that are as close to natural as possible, particularly if the animals are obtained as rescues. However, the videos at the site below show most animals in backyard zoos are kept in small, inadequate cages, often alone and not properly fed.

I was also struck by the irresponsible attitudes of many owners of large predators as well as the roadside zoos. The site has videos showing people entering pens that have only one gate preventing escape, and yet they carelessly leave the gates open while inside. Usually when a fatality occurs at a facility, the investigation reveals that there have been other incidents and injuries prior to the fatal attack. Many of the people who run these places don't seem to care about the public at all.

Anyway, I would urge everyone to take a look at the website. It is very interesting and disturbing reading. To answer the OP's question, yes, I would support Haley's Act. It would take away the suffering of many animals as well as protect unsuspecting people.

Here is a link that might be useful: Big Cat Rescue

    Bookmark   October 10, 2007 at 1:14PM
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I believe that any time a wild cat-- whether it be a tiger, or a bobcat, or anything in between-- comes in contact with an untrained human, it's a huge risk. You're DEPENDING on the animal to put aside its own natural instincts with someone who may unknowingly trigger a reflex reaction, and then when the cat reacts, it's the cat's fault. To me, this is the ultimate form of abuse, and I'd support any law that puts an end to it.

    Bookmark   November 11, 2007 at 11:19AM
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I WOULD NOT SUPPORT THIS ACT, and I think that people who would are greatly misinformed and are not looking at this from different perspectives.

The Haley Act, is completely inappropriate and selfish, and I will outline the reason's why. Any parent would feel this way upon the loss of their child, and it is unfair to direct their anger at other animals and owners that have nothing to do with the event. In the case of dangerous or wild animal ownership, it is a person's choice to whether they want to expose themselves to that kind of danger, whether they think it safe or not. If they girl was around the animal it was her own choice, and she knew the risks as any other human allowed to go close to these animals would know. Unfortunate events happen everyday, in relation to many different things. It would be unfair, for example, to ban sky diving because a few people died due to malfunction of equipment. They knew the risks when they got involved. A different way to approach this issue would be to perhaps, suggest that everyone be required certain training before approaching these animals. It would be unfair however, to kill or make the rest of them homeless because of someone's death, due to lack of experience or knowledge. Think about what you are agreeing with for a second, if my daughter was killed by one of these animals, I would of course feel anger, or think about what could be done to prevent this. However I wouldn't give emotional pain to the people who love these animals, some may even love them as their own children and it would be extremely selfish of me to cause this suffering because of my own. I feel that everyone should be allowed to make the choice to whether they want or like certain things or not, but with responsibility. Finally, these animals should be allowed to be owned by responsible, aware people. In case of events like this, it is unfortunate, but it was the girl's choice to be around these animals and I'm sure she wouldn't want to see suffering to these creatures because if she was around them it means she knew the dangers, and loved them enough to risk herself to befriend them.

    Bookmark   May 17, 2008 at 1:32PM
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At what point are we held responsible?

Even if there was a law on the books stating it was illegal to own these animals, or illegal to allow contact, people would still do it.

These people choose to have their picture taken with a wild animal. I'm not saying this girl deserved to die, but knew going into this that it was a WILD animal. Just because they say it's safe doesn't mean you should do it.

In the end, people need to think things through and be responsible for themselves. Law or no law, if I see someone offering photos with a tiger/lion/gorilla etc, I'm not going to run to the head of the line.

    Bookmark   March 26, 2010 at 2:01PM
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I think it is absolutely a joke that anyone in this country can buy and own dangerous wildlife. There are many reasons, from this tiger killing this girl, right on down to the environmental problems of the giant snakes wreaking havoc in the Everglades because people dump them there when they get too big to handle. And then of course, the lives that most can provide for these "pets" are sub-standard. It is not right. I agree that this is one area where we should NOT have freedom to own what we choose.

    Bookmark   May 22, 2010 at 9:22AM
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Just the other day, a toddler got hurt/scratched up because his dumb father put him on the bar in front of the cage to take a picture. The Lion reached thru the cage and actually had the boy. The Dad and another couple pulled the child back, then disappeared. The have found the couple and are considering child services. Is it the fault of the lion? NO, first the bar should be spaced different, and the Dad should not be that close to the cage. It was in Minn.

    Bookmark   May 22, 2010 at 6:00PM
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