N.B. to review exotic pet regulations after tragedy
Published Friday, December 6, 2013 7:33PM AST
Four months after two young boys were strangled by an African rock python in Campbellton, N.B., the province is reviewing regulations concerning exotic pets.
The python escaped its enclosure and made its way into a ventilation system, eventually falling through the ceiling and into the room where four-year-old Noah Barthe and six-year-old Connor Barthe were sleeping.
The snake was being kept illegally and the government wants to avoid a similar tragedy.
The move to review rules governing exotic pets comes after a Liberal motion supported by the Tory government.
“I think we do have the moral responsibility. If we make sure that everybody knows their role and what responsibilities we have and better understand, have clearer regulations, have more enforcement as well,” says Liberal MLA Donald Arseneault.
“There’s a lot of questions that need to be answered, and once they’re answered, they need to be incorporated in the new legislation to make sure it’s effective.”
The executive director of the New Brunswick SPCA agrees with Arseneault. Hilary Howes says stronger pet regulations are needed, especially when it comes to exotic animals.
“It’s a trend thing. The popularity of exotic animals seems to be growing at the moment, so it’s better to have them in place now, rather than have a tragedy and have no rules to have guidance in the situation by,” says Howes.
The move is also being met with optimism in Campbellton. Mayor Bruce MacIntosh says stronger regulations that might prevent another tragedy could be part of the Barthe brothers’ legacy.
The Canadian Accredited Zoos and Aquariums organization will assist the province as it writes the new regulations.
"New Brunswick has some good regulations in place now, they just need to tighten it up a little bit, and certainly the Canadian Accredited Zoos and Aquariums will help them to do that, and they will also help them to train their officers for enforcement," says Bruce Dougan of the Magnetic Hill Zoo.
Before writing new legislation, the government will consult with stakeholders beyond the zoos and aquariums.
As for the case itself, police say it’s complex, and that’s why it’s taking so long to complete.
The City of Campbellton is considering establishing a memorial for the Barthe brothers but MacIntosh says that idea is on hold until the police investigation is complete.
With files from CTV Atlantic's Andy Campbell