Tuesday, February 17, 2009

When Animals Attack

Pets. They are a joy, aren't they? They are loyal, love you unconditionally, do cute stuff like lie on their backs with their feet in the air. Of course, as The Common Man will one day explain to The Boy, pets are a responsibility. They must be walked, and fed, and cared for. And the more exotic a pet you have, the more exotic its needs are going to be, and the more exotic the challenges they will pose to their owner. Most people, sadly, think "ooh, cool, I could own a python" or "I've always wanted to have a Bengal tiger, here's my chance" before properly investigating whether they have the proper living space conducive to a 25 foot long snake (that could eat you if you become incapacitated) or the $10,000 per month it takes to feed and house said tiger (and as history has demonstrated, Siegried and Roy aren't always going to be there to bail out your ass on that).

Sadly, these points seem to have been lost on Sandra Harold of Stamford, CT, who kept a 200 lbs chimpanzee named Travis as her bestest friend and constant companion until yesterday. Travis had been a minor celebrity, starring in Coke and Old Navy ads, and by all accounts was trained. Yet, that didn't stop him from sending one of Harold's friends to the hospital. According to CNN,

Charla Nash, 55, had just arrived at her friend Sandra Herold's house when the chimp, named Travis, jumped on her and began biting and mauling her, causing serious injuries to her face, neck and hands, according to Stamford Police Capt. Rich Conklin, who said the attack was unprovoked.

Herold had called Nash to her house to help get 14-year-old Travis back inside after he used a key to escape.

While her friend was being attacked, Herold tried to pull the primate off her, but was unsuccessful.

She then called 911 before stabbing the chimp with butcher knife and hitting him with a shovel. Neither fazed Travis, who police said was like a child to Herold.

Nash remains in critical condition today with what Stamford's mayor called life-changing, if not life-threatening" injuries. And this isn't the first time that Travis has caused trouble in Stamford. In 2003, Travis escaped from his owner's car and "played" around downtown Stamford for two hours that officers could have spent dealing with real crime.

The trouble, it would seem, is that Harold, and other pet owners, forget that their exotic pets are still, very much, wild animals no matter how much they try to anthropomorphize them.
After the 2003 incident, according to the AP, Harold told police, "the chimpanzee was toilet trained, dressed himself, took his own bath, ate at the table and drank wine from a stemmed glass. He also brushed his teeth using a Water Pik, logged onto the computer to look at pictures, and watched television using the remote control." That's great, but he's also, you know, a chimpanzee. And sometimes animals act like animals. Like these two chimps who, in 2005, escaped from California Animal Haven and mauled a man's face and mutilated his genitals (seriously, a chimp gnawed off his testicles. worst...pain...ever. even worse than when they tore off his foot). Once again, say it with The Common Man: CHIMPS ARE NOT PEOPLE! And neither is your pet snake, alligator, ostrich, or pot-belly pig. Don't treat them like they are, and definitely don't let them escape and come over to The Common Man's house. Because he likes alligator tail in chipotle-honey-vidalia onion sauce, and loves bacon. And he's pretty sure he could get to like snake or ostrich too, if it were fried with some garlic.

The Common Man is big on personal responsibility and believes that pet owners whose animals represent a threat to public safety, such as the owners whose dogs run wild attack neighbor children (in all honesty, that's why Ralph the Evil Dog is not allowed out of the house without his leash; if you own an unfriendly pet, you have to be constantly aware of the ethical and legal responsibilities associated with it) should be charged with felonies when their pets maul others. And he believes that the trade of exotic animals needs to be restricted more severely than it is now. Sure, it'd be nice if people were smarter about the pets they get, but if The Common Man learned anything from watching Idiocracy, it's that people are stupid (but it's got electrolytes). So it's important to keep the dangerous pets away from the dullards. Stricter regulation on these animals is probably the only way to keep the chimps, tigers, ferrets, snakes, water buffalo, and bears from breaking down The Common Man's door one of these days, looking to maul his handsome face or tear off his mighty testicles.

1 comment:

coffeerama said...

a CNN commentator made a good point about the impossibility of ever truly domesticating a wild animal, no matter how much a person might want it to to be domesticated