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‘More regulation needed on exotic animals’, say North Devon rescue centre owners

PUBLISHED: 11:00 11 February 2017

Marc Harris, Peter Heaton-Jones and Leanne Harris at Safe Haven Exotics

Marc Harris, Peter Heaton-Jones and Leanne Harris at Safe Haven Exotics


Peter Heaton-Jones visited Safe Haven Exotics CIC near Bishop’s Tawton, a reptile rescue centre which has reached financial capacity

North Devon’s MP has said he will look into the possibility of bringing legislation on the ownership of exotic animals to the House of Commons.

Peter Heaton-Jones visited Safe Haven Exotics CIC near Bishop’s Tawton on Friday, where owner Marc Harris asked for something to be done to prevent exotic animals being abandoned.

The centre takes unwanted and abandoned reptiles from snakes and bearded dragons to turtles and iguanas, but has reached financial capacity.

Mr Harris said something ‘needs to be done’ to stop fair-weathered reptile owners neglecting animals.

“Since big chain pet shops started selling reptiles I’ve noticed the levels of unwanted pets going up.

“When it was just reptile shops it was just people who are interested in them that would go and buy them.

“I don’t think films have helped either, which sounds silly, but when Finding Nemo came out, everyone wanted a clown fish. Then you get Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and Rango.”

With the centre unable to take more rescue animals, they are relying on visitors to the reptile zoo to educate people about the level of care and attention exotic creatures need.

Mr Heaton-Jones said more needed to be done to educate people about the level of care that is required, and was open to the idea of bringing the case before parliament.

He said: “We now microchip every dog, why shouldn’t we microchip every animal of this kind when it gets to a certain size?

“Then people will take more responsibility and they will know if it’s released and microchipped they will be found out and they can be taken off the register of suitable owners.

“There are people who are perfectly responsible owners who know what they are doing and look after these things for their lives and we don’t want any legislation that stops them from quite legitimately owning animals and caring for them.

“Sadly though, it’s the people who are not responsible who we want to crack down on and so I want to take that idea away and see how we can make that happen.”

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