HR 669, A Threat to Your Pet

If you live in the United States, HR 669 may eventually kill your beloved pet. Don’t get it confused with swine flu (H1N1) or avian flu (H5N1). No, HR 669 is not a virus, it’s a bill currently inching its way along the process to becoming law, one which could make it illegal for you to keep your pet.

So what’s HR 669 about? The supposed intent of the bill is sound, namely to prevent invasive species from establishing breeding populations in the US. This makes sense – though it’s coming a little late, Florida probably has more non-native species than anyone can count. Unfortunately, the bill is very ill-conceived. It will not solve the problem, and as many have pointed out it will in fact make matters worse.

I heard about HR 669 from GrrlScientist’s blog, she has been writing about it a lot recently. In “HR 669: The Nonnative Wildlife Invasion Prevention Act” she describes the main features of this bill. I won’t attempt to reproduce her comprehensive analysis here, you should read her post if you’re interested. And if you live in the United States and own a bird, lizard, hamster, fish, or practically any animal other than a cat or dog, you should definitely be interested!

The bill assumes that all non-native species are a threat to native American wildlife, and that they should be banned until proven to be harmless. The bill doesn’t distinguish different regions of the US, so an animal that has the potential to establish itself only in Hawaii, or Alaska, will be banned, even if it couldn’t survive anywhere else. The United States has a wide range of ecosystems, so practically any animal you can think of keeping as a pet could survive somewhere in the US, and is therefore likely to be banned under this bill, should it become law.

Animals which are banned will not be allowed to be imported or exported, traded, sold, or bred, and of course, not be allowed to be released into the wild. If you have one of these banned animals when the bill becomes law, you can keep it, but only if you can prove you had it before the bill is passed. Do you happen to have a receipt for that parrot you inherited from your grandmother 30 years ago?

HR 669 doesn’t stop there. Even if you can prove it, you will still be subject to all the above restrictions. Also, you will not be allowed to transport the animal across state boundaries. Forget about moving to get a better job unless you want your pet to be euthanised. No, you can’t give it to someone else, that’s not allowed either.

If this has you at all concerned, please read the above post on GrrlScientist’s blog, and consider following the link to take action to oppose this bill.



GrrlScientist has some follow-up posts that are worth reading too. In “World Parrot Trust Speaks out Against HR 669” she reproduces a letter from the Executive Director of the World Parrot Trust, in which he adds his voice to the opposition. I find it particularly poignant that parrots will suffer because of this bill. Those of you who know Jasmines’ Story will know that we tried to export her to the US, where we knew she could have lived in a healthier environment. We were unable to do so because the US was not accepting imports from our part of France, for fear of bird-flu, and in any case her exportation would have been a slow process because African Grey are on the CITES lists. Jasmine might have lived had it not been for that restriction, and if HR 669 becomes law, many other animals already living in the US are likely doomed to a similar fate.

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2 Responses [lang_en]to[/lang_en][lang_fr]pour[/lang_fr] “HR 669, A Threat to Your Pet”

  1. shannon Says:

    Excellent information, Tony! Yeesh, what will legislators think of next?! Will migrating birds be next on the list…

  2. Tony Says:

    Hi Shannon,

    it is amazing, isn’t it? I’d be disappointed if high-school students came up with anything this stupid, but elected representatives? Yeesh, as you say.

    The bill doesn’t even address the more serious causes of invasions by species. Migrating birds which find their habitat moving north because of global warming may well invade new areas in response, so you raise a good point. I wonder what legislation they will put in place then. Passports for the birds, perhaps? immigration quotas? Who knows…