Myth: HSUS wants to ban all non-native animals

Claim: The HSUS wants to outlaw ownership of all pets.
Claim: The HSUS wants to outlaw ownership of all non-native species.
Claim: The HSUS wants to outlaw ownership of all birds.
Status: False.

Claim: The HSUS opposes ownership of all reptiles.
Claim: The HSUS opposes ownership of certain exotic animals.
Status: True.

HSUS feels that undomesticated and wild animals — those animals that have not been raised, bred, and genetically adapted over a period of centuries to live in close proximity to humans — may pose a threat to the local ecosystem, may carry dangerous pathogens, and may be a danger in and of themselves.

For those reasons, HSUS opposes private ownership of endangered species, undomesticated animals, and all reptiles.

While most people agree with banning ownership of endangered species, the opposition to reptiles generates fury among reptile breeders and sellers. They dispute the facts and the conclusions HSUS has relied on — and that’s fine. Discussion and a logical exploration of the issues is perfectly reasonable.

However, misrepresenting HSUS policy by claiming that HSUS wants to ban ALL pets, or ALL non-native species is clearly dishonest.

Along the same lines, HSUS discourages keeping parrots, macaws, cockatoos, and toucans because they are not longstanding domesticated species. They do not oppose ownership of all birds. The HSUS recommends canaries, finches, cockatiels, lovebirds, and parakeets, as those species have a long history of selective breeding in captivity and are considered to be domesticated.

Sellers of parrots, macaws, and other exotic birds have also misrepresented HSUS policies, claiming that the HSUS wants to ban all birds, ban all pets, etc.

HSUS also opposes the introduction of non-native species into the environment. There are many situations where deliberate or accidental introduction of non-native species into the environment have caused havoc: gypsy moths, silver carp, zebra mussels, cane toads, starlings, Japanese beetles… the list is huge, and the damage is extensive.

This does not mean that HSUS opposes ownership of non-native pets. As stated before, HSUS supports ownership of hamsters, ferrets, cockatoos, guinea pigs, gerbils, lovebirds — all of which HSUS opponents have falsely claimed HSUS is trying to ban.

Whether it’s due to ignorance or a deliberate attempt to mislead other pet owners about the HSUS, those who repeat the false claim that HSUS “wants to ban all pets” undermine their own credibility.

Learn more about the myth of HSUS opposition to pets.
Or, read the official HSUS policies, or their tips on pet ownership.

Return to Myths and Misconceptions.

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