Interesting comments in support of breeder are actually a challenge to puppy-mill practices

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The case where a group of Old English Sheepdog (edit – Bulldog) puppies were taken from a home-breeder in Waukegan, Ill. has drawn a lot of national attention. It seems the breeder was violating a local ordinance, but now the rescue group holding the puppies and city staffers (including the police) have received threats of violence.

On Chicago Now’s “Raining Cats and Dogs” blog, the comments are all over the map. So I jumped in this week in the comment section to offer my take.

The following sums up some of my input:

Comments concerning puppies actually support bans on selling puppies before they are ready to leave their mothers.

It is interesting to read the comments from those who support the breeder in the story, where concern is expressed for separating puppies from moms at too young an age.
But if anyone introduced legislation to ban the sale of puppies before the age of 10 to 12 weeks or so, the AKC and other breeder organizations would scream and lobby heavily against it.

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Rescue groups and shelters often have no choice. They either take in puppies dropped off at shelters at a very young age or take in puppies from a rescue case.

But it is time to ban the sale of puppies before they are ready to leave their moms, where they learn important social skills and gather other benefits. And the breeders should not be allowed to separate them from the moms.

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Actually, there are behavioral concerns. Puppies learn social skills from their moms and litter mates.
All dogs are actually wolf-hybrids and in the wild, wolf puppies stay with their moms much longer – of course.

And as far as breeding goes overall, there are real concerns out in the real world. I regularly note that there are good breeders, but far too many are not at all concerned with breeding with concern for long-term health.

I’ve heard too many stories of young dogs getting cancer. I’ve had too many people tell me about their purchased dogs that ended up with serious knee deformities or cancers or hip problems or behavior problems.

We have been talking to one person of late who purchased a pair of puppies just four years ago. One had both knees operated on and the other had liver problems and is now dead due to an oral cancer.
One family we know adopted four ex-racing greyhounds and all four died young from osteosarcoma.

We need far better regulations on breeders, so that only the quality breeders are operating. Who wants a bunch of substandard breeders – not only harming dogs but giving good breeders a bad name?
Who could support a system like that. which is what we have now?

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Clearly, there are good and bad breeders. We all know that. I have no problems with the breeders are researching and working with concern for quality breeding. These breeders are not the problem.

I’ve clearly stated that we need to weed out the bad breeders (puppy mills, etc) so that only the quality breeders remain.
That is clearly a logical position that everyone should support. Who would support bad breeding?

The issue has been the breeders who fail to engage in research and continue to breed dogs with health issues.
We also know there is a problem with purebred dogs because of the rise in specific breed rescue groups. People tend to too often site numbers from municipal shelters without taking into account the purebred dogs up for adoption in rescue groups.

Yes, irresponsible pet guardians are a problem, along with irresponsible breeders. We should address both. I often do.
Last year, I spoke at a meeting for a local shelter and told the attendees that while they debating over the particular issues of care within the shelter (very important) I was watching dogs and cats coming in the door.

We must debate these topics knowing it is a complex issue. We can’t let bad breeders off the hook because bad people are taking in pets.
I don’t want to see people dumping their pets or not caring for them and I don’t want to see bad breeders continue to operate.

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Good breeders already comply with the provisions in every proposed anti-puppy mill bill I’ve read. But we continue to see opposition to shutting down the bad breeders.
And yes, I have visited breeding operations where the dogs were housed properly and had access to play yards and clean food and water.

Again, why would anyone want bed breeders to continue to operate?

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In my home state, breed rescues have seen huge growth over the last 15 years. We’ve always had bad pet guardians. But in the last 15 years, the homeless problem has gotten worse, with even purebred dogs.

(One commenter took the typical route of those opposed to breeding regulations, by suggesting there are no definitions to the phrase – puppy mill. I had one ready for them.) –

A puppy mill is any breeding operation that —
A) Houses dogs in dirty cages too small for them to freely move about – and does not contain clean bedding.
B) Does not allow the dogs daily time for exercise in a safe, outdoor play area.
C) Denies the dogs regular veterinary care.
D) Does not offer the dogs proper food and water.
E) Separates the puppies from their mothers at too young an age.

These are the typical provisions contained in proposed anti-puppy mill bills and laws. Want a definition of a puppy mill? It’s any breeder who does not comply with the above.

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We have too often seen even inspected operations finally exposed as puppy mills, because the current regulations are far too weak.
Let’s weed out the bad breeders and puppy mills and leave breeding to quality breeders. Who could oppose that?

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Obviously, the puppy mills are not being inspected – as for one thing there are too few inspectors.
We’ve also seen where inspectors allowed horrible conditions to go on – through multiple inspections.

Only recently has legislation been proposed to cover all breeders, those who sell to commercial operations and over the internet.

We need to make sure the dogs get regular play time and clean housing and clean food and water. Sadly, too often this is not happening.

The USDA license is too often – sadly – not worth the paper it’s printed on and it will be until the regulations are improved.

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Editorial suggests the US needs to expand sources for puppies

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I received the link today on the Pack News Wire to an editorial that ran Monday on the DVM360 website. I was so stunned that I had to read over it several times.

The writer, Mark Cushing, JD of the Animal Policy Group is suggesting an expanding US market for dogs needs to look overseas for breeding sources for puppies, as our human population grows.

Cushing lists what he feels are US sources for dogs, which includes hobby breeders (he states the volume there isn’t enough), large-scale breeders (but he notes puppy mills are an issue) and “Untreated feral dogs in the American South and Midwest producing litters for delivery by local shelters to urban markets around the country.”

On the latter “source” he goes on to write that is “difficult to view this as an intentional, humane source of the volume needed, although it is a steady source now.”

It is a strange take that I’ve never seen worded so oddly. In reality, it is not so much feral dogs who are adding to the homeless ranks.

How he lists “untreated feral dogs” as a source to fill what he states as a growing US demand for pets, without mentioning homeless adult dogs and puppies that are ready for adoption is stunning. How he writes an editorial about the demand for pets without noting millions of homeless pets are dying in shelters every year – before they find homes is stunning.

And it is stunning that Cushing fails to mention that by far the best “sources” for pets in the United States are your area shelters and rescue organization.

I’ll give Cushing the benefit of the doubt, to a degree, in that he might have been focusing on puppies. But again, new homeless dogs are being born every day all over the nation. Rescue is the BEST source for pets.

We absolutely do not need anyone suggesting families should look to overseas breeders for puppies, while millions of dogs are dying in the US without homes.

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Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel features the real problems with substandard dog breeding

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I was really pleased to see that Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel has dipped into this issue of dog shows and breed standards – through the American Kennel Club and others – and horrible breeding practices in general.

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Basically, a good video about dog breeds and aggression – with one big problem

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The producers of the video below did a pretty good job – on the topic of aggression and dog breeds. Just because a dog happens to be of a particular breed, doesn’t mean he or she will exhibit a particular behavior, aggression or other behaviors.

But one major mistake is made in the video. The reporter states dogs from shelters or rescue groups tend to be more aggressive than those purchased from breeders. BIG ERROR there.

Many of the dogs that end up in shelters or with rescue groups originated from breeders. Some of these dogs are in shelters because families turned them in due to behavioral issues. Why? – Because too many breeders are pulling puppies away from their mothers and litter mates at too young an age and are selling them at 6 to 8 weeks old.

The puppies need more time with mothers, to learn proper social behaviors. So to claim dogs from shelters or rescues might exhibit aggression in a higher percentage, merely because they are from shelters or rescues is inaccurate at best.

Poor breeding practices or acts of cruelty or general mistreatment are the key and unfortunate factors that generally lead to negative behavior in dogs.

And I must add that in my experience, shelter dogs and cats can show gratitude and can offer an adopting family a special kind of love.

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Video: A look into online puppy sales

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A reader, Twitter friend and fellow animal-welfare advocate has requested that I post information about the organization, Purebred Breeders. It took a few seconds to find the following video from HSUS – from December of 2011.

Back on December 7, 2011, the Today Show featured a segment about Purebred Breeders, which reportedly covers almost 800 websites.

In a post on the HSUS website from Dec. of 2011, Jonathan Lovvorn, senior vice president for animal protection litigation and investigations for HSUS is quoted as saying:

“Purebred Breeders reaps massive profits by purchasing puppies from puppy mills around the country and selling them at a huge mark-up to dog lovers who would never knowingly buy a puppy mill dog.”

Spread the word everywhere you possibly can and through as many means as possible. People should never purchase puppies or kittens before visiting the breeding facility and before insisting on a full tour. Otherwise, the risk is too great that they were bred at a puppy mill or kitten mill.

And for the millionth time, tell everyone that of the top 25 strategies for adding a new furry family member, No. 1 through No. 24 involve adopting through a rescue group or shelter.

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Some dog breeders file lawsuit to block regulations

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Apparently, some dog breeders do not want to engage in even minimal welfare standards for welfare practices. As the USDA proposed a move of covering commercial breeders who sell directly to the public under the Animal Welfare Act, some breeders made it clear they do not want to fall under these minimal standards.

They have filed a lawsuit to block expansion of the rules.

Other breeders already fall under the act. But the system needs a upgrade, as too few inspectors are on the job to enforce the regulations, as they they stand now.

In reality, breeders who refuse to house and care for animals under these current, less-than-stringent guidelines should not be allowed to operate at all. Those who refuse proper veterinary care and those who house their dogs or cats in tiny cages 24/7 and those who never allow their animals time for play or exercise or proper food and water should be shut down – today.

It is difficult to understand how anyone could suggest all breeders should NOT be covered under at lease these very minimum standards of care in the Animal Welfare Act. If we shut down the puppy mill operators for good, the costs of enforcing the act will go down. If we shut the puppy mills down and slap some real punishment for the offenders, the penalty will be too great and the risk will be too big for other puppy mill operators.

It is time to see real action against puppy mills.

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Connecticut city considers ban on puppy and kitten sales in stores

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Hartford, Conn. held a second of two public hearing last week on a proposed ban on the sale of puppies and kittens in stores that originate from kitten or puppy mills. The legislation would limit the “sales” to what the Fairfield Patch website calls “humanely sourced puppies.”

The article reports one opponent of banning the sale of puppies in stores read from a newspaper ad concerning pit bulls needing new homes. He was quoted a saying, “We are in business because people don’t want an old pit bull dog.”

That’s ridiculous and it is the typical propaganda that falsely claims all homeless dogs are either pit bulls or mutts. Clearly, the nation would NOT have the thousands over thousands of breed-specific rescues operating, if the only dogs in the homeless ranks were pit bulls and mixed-breeds.

Puppies and kittens should not be sold like toasters in stores. Adopting or purchasing a pet is a lifetime commitment, where an adoption-application is part of the process. It is not something that should be an impulse decision by shoppers.

In addition, the buyer has no way of confirming the conditions where the puppies are bred. No one should purchase a puppy or kitten without confirming how the parent dogs are being treated. It is far too risky.

 

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Wacky Mentality for Nov. 4: Odd statements on breeding and animal welfare

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Some people just continue to pull in their thoughts from regions beyond our solar system. This, of course, is assuming intelligent life does not exist beyond the Earth. But then again, intelligent life is limited here too.

The Pack News Wire included an editorial posted on HoosierAGToday.com – under the headline: “The Hidden Agenda Behind The Animal Care Movement.”
This was odd enough. Not the ‘animal rights movement,’ as we typically see. The headline suggests the animal care movement has a hidden agenda. What? – your vet is out to take over the world?

But Gary Truitt actually states – “The real agenda behind the animal activist movement is the total domination and, in some cases, elimination of animal agriculture.”

The fact that this is not happening really doesn’t seem to bother Truitt. But his claims are really based on the fact that those who support compassion and animal welfare want to see abuse exposed, in some cases with undercover video of people actually torturing animals.

So since people with compassion want to prevent acts of animal cruelty and see to it that abuse is uncovered, Truitt falsely claims that means they want total domination. That’s wacky.

AND – A headline on RoyalCentral.co.uk reads – “Animal Welfare Act endangers the Queens corgis.”

And why is this claim made? – Because the act bans the act of tail docking for cosmetic reasons for dogs.
So if breeders don’t get to engage in this completely unnecessary but cruel practice, they just don’t want to breed that dog. So the fear is the Queen won’t be able to buy more corgis because those who set the breed standard won’t like the dogs with full tails – the way nature intended.

From the piece –

The ban on docking has changed the look of the corgi; therefore breeders are not continuing to raise the Pembroke Corgi.
Just because they don’t get to chop off each dog’s tail. That’s wacky.
AND -
Falling below the number required will place in on a “vulnerable native breeds list.”

Native breeds list – ? They are all related to wolves. The welfare of the dogs should come first, not a native breeds list.

The Queen should decree henceforth to adopt homeless pets. What a great example that would set.

 

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Local, online poll shows huge support for anti-puppy mill laws

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Online polls can be a bit unscientific, the numbers found in a local news station poll this week are incredible. WWAY in Wilmington, NC asked readers if they think North Carolina needs to enact tougher puppy-mill laws.

Just up the road from Wilmington, around 100 dogs were recently rescued in a raid on a rural puppy mill.

As of Friday morning, 762 people had voted in the poll, with 92 percent voting YES. While any reasonable person would vote this way, a few did go with NO or Don’t Know/Don’t Care.

Our nation is divided on many political issues and as we’re seeing right now, gridlock is the new norm. But our collective love for animals brings people of all political corners into agreement. Now we just need our elected officials follow the movement. To date, too many elected officials at the state and federal level have been caving in to special-interest groups, who regularly lobby against any and all breeding regulations and/or animal-welfare laws.

In its next session, the North Carolina General Assembly will take up a new anti-puppy mill bill, which has passed one house already.  Any puppy-mill regulations need to include regular, unannounced inspections; requirements for daily exercise and play time; regular veterinary care and standards for kennel sizes and construction.

Our current laws in North Carolina and at the federal level are far too weak. Don’t let anyone tell you current laws are good enough, if enforced. There are gaping holes in current regulations – especially for breeders – in NC and elsewhere.

Enforcement is one key area, but currently, law enforcement does not have the guidelines it needs. Conditions have to be reach extreme levels before police and sheriff departments can act. By that point, the suffering might have gone on for years. Without inspections, we’ve seen puppy mills operate undiscovered for years, if not decades. So many are operating freely right now.

 

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Dispelling a Myth: The phrase ‘puppy mill’ does have a legal definition

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I continue to read insane propaganda from those who support puppy mills and those who fight against any and all legislation directed to shutting down more mills.

One of the myths circling around websites, message boards and comment sections is the one making the false claim that the phrase ‘puppy mill’ does not have a legal definition. It’s as odd as claiming the moon does not exist.

Within any existing piece of legislation regarding the regulation of breeders, where standards of care are part of the legislation, we can find the standards that define a substandard breeding operation – a puppy mill. It is true that in many cases the regulations do not go far enough.

But there are penalties involved for breeders who fall below the basic standards.

In many cases, the breeders are required to offer regular veterinary care, house their dogs to minimum standards (some banning the use of wire flooring), offer the dogs regular periods for exercise and provide them clean food and water. So in a very minimum level, a puppy mill operation would fail within any one or more of these areas.

Clearly, a substandard breeding operation is define and therefore a puppy mill is defined. So the next time you read a comment from someone claiming ‘puppy mill’ does not have a legal definition, point out the clearly defined definition. Although these individuals often have a lot of trouble with reading comprehension, others might better understand the topic.

I was reading a news article recently about a store planning to open in a Toledo, Ohio – where puppies will be sold. How the mall – in 2013 – could even consider this move is beyond belief. But some of the comments under the story might be funny if the topic was not so serious.

One person used the same old tired propaganda about there being no definition of a puppy mill. And she went further, claiming bad breeders could not possibly hide from view now. And get this, she claims all of the videos from puppy mill raids are old. (These people will claim anything at this point.)

She goes on to claim:

— Sick puppies don’t sell, so puppy mills couldn’t possibly sell sick puppies. (Of course she fails to note that these breeders don’t take sick puppies back and in some cases, the puppies get sick later or develop cancers later.)

— She claims most commercial breeders have state-of-the art kennels and are inspected every year. (Clearly, this is not true, as we only recently saw the USDA change the rules to cover the thousands of breeders who sell over the Internet or in ads.)

— She tries to claim improved regulations won’t help shut down puppy mills. (If that was the case, the puppy mill supporters would not be working so hard to stop the improved regulations from passing – in states across the county.)

But in too many cases, current regulations are far too weak, in regard to the housing, exercise time and veterinary care – and in the punishment for animal cruelty. So clearly we need better regulations.

— And she leaves one the highly-false claims for last, one we see spewed out often. She claims breeders are not responsible for dogs going into shelters.

She is partly correct in suggesting irresponsible people are to blame. But in too many cases, people are buying puppies from substandard breeders – through stores or over the Web – and then turning them in to shelters after they show behavioral problems or health problems.

If these puppy mill breeders would follow breeding practices that include genetic health factors and if they would stop selling puppies at 6 weeks old, the situation would be greatly improved.

 

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