You’ll never take away my pet dolphins, City Hall

December 29, 2015

dolphin-mainI was out for a walk with my pet alligator the other day when I stumbled across a disturbing story in this newspaper, taunting me from a newsstand.

I was shocked — shocked! — by what I read. Guelph is considering a proposed new animal control licensing bylaw. That expanded bylaw, currently being drafted by a working group, would add a whole raft of exotic animals to the city’s list of prohibited creatures.

The proposed bylaw has some reasonable ideas. It would ban elephants, which is perfectly understandable. As a person who regularly does stupid things, the last thing I want is an animal that never forgets, and keeps throwing my screw-ups in my face for years to come.

Nightjars, which have always been difficult to open in the dark, would be gone, too. Aardvarks, which are a fictional creature much like a unicorn, are out.

The intent of the new bylaw is to promote public safety and animal welfare while restricting invasive species and the black market for exotic pets. And that’s all well and good. But in places, this proposed list goes too far.

The would-be ban includes so-called bush babies, which I initially assumed were children conceived during parties in the backwoods, but are in fact small, nocturnal, primates native to continental Africa. They’re cute as heck, and now I want one.

Also on the list are something called sugar gliders — which, although I’m no wildlife biologist, I believe are some kind of new baked treat made by Mr. Christie. Who is the city to tell me I can’t have as many sugar gliders as I want? What’s next? Banning ice cream? Are you calling me fat, City Hall?

Worse of all, the bylaw advisory committee has their sights set on the most lovable of all sea creatures, the dolphin. What is this world coming to when a man can no longer keep a pet dolphin in his home?

Did we not learn anything from the 1963 film “Flipper,” which I believe was a documentary about the inseparable bond between man and dolphin? Don’t go looking for the city’s bylaw department to bail you out the next time you’re surrounded by sharks while out on a swim, that’s all I’m saying.

It’s true I do not currently own a dolphin. But this proposed bylaw would take away my right to own one in the future. And that’s just inhumane. Think of all the dolphins out there, swimming in the ocean, scared and alone, with no human masters to care for them.

Now read that paragraph over again, but add in the sound of dolphins crying in your mind. If you can still ban dolphins after that, your heart is a cold, cruel organ indeed.

As I lay in my zebra-skin bed at night, I’m comforted knowing there are people out there hard at work drafting a list of magical creatures we cannot own. It’s kind of like reading a fairy tale or looking at famous people’s Instagram accounts, wondering about pretty things we may never have.

The proposed list goes on and on. Rhinoceros, African rock python, flying lemurs and whales. Also out would be raccoons, cobras, parrots and sea turtles. And karma has it that I just renovated my house to be rhino-friendly.

I had no idea that Guelph was at risk of being overrun with flamingos, but they’re on the list, too. I’ll be the first to say it: If we turn this city into a flamingo-free zone, that’s it. I’m moving to Kitchener.

Greg Mercer is a Guelph-based writer whose column appears every third Saturday. He can reached at and past columns can be read at Follow him on Twitter at @MercerRecord.

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