Less traditional pets deserve attention, respect

by Madison Gomez | Opinion Editor

Every day, I get up, turn on the salt lamp on my dresser, and open my blinds. I take some scissors and grab a piece of food not even as big as my fingernail, but it’s still too big for my pet.

Fish are weird creatures, but they’re some of the most energetic when they’re happy. Swimming up to the lip of the tank, my fish, Juan Pepe Arnold Gomez-Feldhusen, can only eat a cut-in-half piece of food, or else he chokes and spits it out. I wouldn’t trade taking care of him for the world.

While my fish, with the strangest name I’ve ever heard, may not be a practical pet because you cannot hold and kiss him, he deserves just as much respect and care.

Graphic by Kiara Conley

In this country, we have created laws to prevent heinous acts, but some slip through the cracks. Oftentimes, fish are sold at fairs as toys, relegating them to winnable objects. These animals should be valued the same as any other pet. They should be chosen with care, not won in games. This is the only reason I don’t like the University of Indianapolis having carnivals. People assume there will be live prizes here because of the practice at other carnivals, so the university also has live fish.

The issue with these live prizes is the treatment of these animals. Last year, at Carnival DeCentral, as much as I loved the fun and light atmosphere at UIndy Hall, I saw fish crowding in the corner of a tank,  afraid of the large net coming towards them. Some of them appeared to be already dead. Central had bought these fish, called feeder fish, and East did the same this year with its carnival event. I even won one fish this year, hoping to save its life. I used a vase that I used for an older fish of mine and put in rocks and plants, a whole home, and this fish only lived for two weeks. They’re destined to die; that’s the nature of feeder fish, just like fish in the ocean. For some, farm animals also serve this feeder role. They shouldn’t be brought up as feasible pets. For this to occur again on campus seems cruel.

UIndy should stop putting on events that hurt animals. Even if the stores are producing these fish for cheap, it’s unethical for our university to promote this carnival behavior. If this argument for animal rights isn’t enough, there also are consequences for humans as well. Fish-borne illnesses, once the dead animal is flushed, are introduced into the sewage system, according to Affinity Magazine. The majority of people probably don’t know that. They also don’t know that a goldfish from the carnival needs a fifty-gallon tank almost immediately to help reverse the negative bacterial infections that already are catalyzed from the fish staying in a baggie for hours in the sun.

During times of quarantine, people may want company if they’re alone in their homes, so they may consider buying less traditional pets, but they need to do the research ahead of time. When I was younger, my mom and I trusted the clerk at a pet store, and I took home a pufferfish, putting it in my freshwater tank. Pufferfish aren’t freshwater fish. The poor thing literally spit out its guts. From that moment, at the age of 12, I realized that every animal deserves proper care, and it is abuse if you don’t bother to look up anything about the species. Learn from my mistakes and take care of these less traditional pets.

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