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.

PACK MENTALITY BLOG: Compassion - teamed with Science and Logic

HSUS leader Wayne Pacelle reviews results for 2014

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In his A Humane Nation blog this week, Humane Society of the United States leader Wayne Pacelle reviewed the organization’s “Top Transformational Results of 2014.”

The list features:

South Dakota becoming the 5oth US state to adopt a felony animal-cruelty law.

It is now a federal crime to attend or bring a child to a dogfight or cockfight.

The truly idiotic and evil “King Amendment” was tossed out of the Farm Bill.

A federal appellate court rightfully overturned a horrible ruling from a lower that might have tossed out the animal crush video law. If I recall, the lower court tried to claim that torturing and brutally killing animals was protected free speech. That’s one for the Moronic Court Ruling Hall of Fame.

So arguably the current leader for the Moronic Court Ruling Hall of Fame is Citizens United.

A number of countries have agreed to end the use of gestation crates for pigs.

Three horse-slaughter plants were blocked from opening this year.

A new U.S. Department of Agriculture rule blocks the importation of puppies for sale. This means at least foreign puppy mills can’t sell here.

Internet sellers of puppy now have to follow USDA guidelines. The HSUS helped to block a legal challenge to this ruling.

Better protections are in place for animals suffering through experiments in labs.

The World Trade Organization is thankfully supporting European Union’s ban on products resulting from the horrific Canadian seal hunts.

The wolf hunts were stopped in Michigan.

New York and New Jersey became the first states to banned the sale of Ivory. This one should become a federal ban.

And Pacelle states the “…  International Court of Justice ruled that Japan’s Southern Ocean whaling program violates the International Convention for the Regulation of Whaling’s ban on commercial hunting.”

Read Pacelle’s full rundown at the link above.

PACK MENTALITY BLOG: Compassion - teamed with Science and Logic

BREAKING GOOD NEWS: Federal court tosses lawsuit that challenged new crackdown on puppy mills

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The Humane Society of the US just released a statement concerning the actions of a federal court. A lawsuit that challenged the USDA’s new rules directed to the Internet sales of puppy mill puppies, was shut down by the court.

“We are delighted the court has thrown out this baseless lawsuit challenging USDA’s new rule cracking down on Internet sellers of puppy mill dogs,” said Jonathan Lovvorn, senior vice president of animal protection litigation and investigations for the HSUS, in the press release.

“In a detailed opinion, the court concluded that the breeders ‘are barking up the wrong tree’ because ‘their complaints are more policy disagreements with APHIS’s regulatory approach than they are valid legal objections to APHIS’s authority.’

“Dismissing the breeders’ legal claims as ‘a dog that won’t hunt,’ the court granted judgment in favor of USDA and the HSUS – which intervened to help defend the rule because every large-scale operation should be inspected and every dog provided a bowl of clean water and enough space to move around.”

Add me to the list to animal-welfare advocates who are grateful to the court for flushing this nasty lawsuit down the toilet, where it belongs.

PACK MENTALITY BLOG: Compassion - teamed with Science and Logic

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.

PACK MENTALITY BLOG: Compassion - teamed with Science and Logic

Animal welfare protests at Georgia Regents University

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The Humane Society of the US alleges, through video, that dogs are being abused during research studies at Georgia Regents University. With the release of this news, a group of animal-welfare advocates protested this past weekend at the Augusta, Ga. campus.

A response from Dr. Christopher Cutler and Dr. Mark Hamrick of the university ran on the WRDW-TV website. In the editorial, the two state the HSUS is claiming abuse where no such abuse is occurring. They support their position – in part – with the following:

Dogs are used infrequently in research conducted at the university. In this and every study at GRU, they are only obtained from vendors licensed and inspected by the USDA.

Puppy mill supporters use this same excuse, and it’s not a good one. The USDA is extremely short-handed with inspectors and we know puppy mills are operating unimpeded across the nation. And we know the regulations are extremely weak, as even puppy mills that are finally raided have often been allowed to stay in operation despite a history of infractions.

I would feel better to hear school officials were visiting the breeders on a regular basis for full tours, to ensure the parent dogs are being treated humanely. Are the breeders allowing the dogs regular, daily time for exercise and play? If not, these dogs are not being treated humanely.

 

PACK MENTALITY BLOG: Compassion - teamed with Science and Logic

USDA announces crackdown on online puppy mill sales

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Finally, we might be seeing a move at the federal level to go after puppy mills.

The USDA has announced new regulations to bring dog breeders who sell puppies online or through the mail or by phone under the same guidelines imposed on wholesale breeders. This will be the case for breeders who breed four females or more.

The Associated Press story notes these breeders will need to apply for federal licenses and can be inspected by officials with the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service.

And here’s more great news from the AP piece:

The Agriculture Department estimates that up to 4,640 dog breeders could be affected by the rule, along with about 325 cat breeders and up to 75 rabbit breeders.

Those oppose to the new rules claim the move will put many breeders out of business. GOOD. Those who cannot comply with basic, humane standards of care should not be allowed to operate at all.

Naturally, the AKC opposes the move by the USDA, as reported by the AP:

The American Kennel Club said it is dismayed by the rule, which is “overly broad and will do more damage than good,” said spokeswoman Lisa Petersen.

The AKC always opposes new regulations on puppy mills. Any move to actually force bad breeders to shut down brings the AKC out in force. And get this, the group claims the term “breeding female” is too vague. They probably think the term “compassion” is too vague.

Global Animal puts it this way – “Dog lovers rejoice!”

And on his blog, Wayne Pacelle of the Humane Society of the US says tens of thousands of dogs housed in puppy mill will gain protection under the new regulations.

Pacelle explains the HSUS, the Humane Society Legislative Fund and the Doris Day Animal League have been pushing for the change. And they believe “… it was fundamentally unfair that people involved in the same underlying business enterprise (breeding dogs to sell for profit) would face entirely different regulatory standards.”

At minimum, why can’t officials at the AKC understand even this fact?

Pacelle goes on to add:

We thank the Obama administration and the USDA for bringing new standards of care to thousands of puppies, but also to kittens, rabbits and other warm-blooded animals who are often raised in inhumane facilities and sold as pets over the Internet, by mail or by phone, sight-unseen.

We must impose a system of inspections for commercial breeders. Those found to be abusing animals should be immediately shut down and those found to be operating without a license should be immediately shut down.

PACK MENTALITY BLOG: Compassion - teamed with Science and Logic

Reopening the door to horse slaughter plants an idiotic move

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Late last month, the US Department of Agriculture granted an application in New Mexico to open a horse-slaughter plant. And the same thing could happen in Iowa and Missouri.

It is still possible the USDA might not be granted the funding to inspect the plants, which would block the move.

An Associated Press article posted June 28 offered this tidbit:

The decision comes more than six months after Valley Meat Co. sued the USDA, accusing it of intentionally delaying the process because the Obama administration opposes horse slaughter.

I think arguments such as this fall under the category of “Crybaby.” So it’s no fair that someone disagrees with them on the issue? Is that a legal argument? Will “Waaaah, Mommy, they don’t think the way I think” stand up in court?

Thankfully, the USDA reports the Obama administration has asked Congress to reinstate the ban on horse slaughter.

The article also cites a 2011 Government Accountability Office report suggesting the abuse and abandonment of horses has been rising since the ban on slaughter went on the books in 2006.

So I’ll ask this extremely important question: It is right to punish the horses because they are being abused and abandoned by people and because they are being over-bred to levels that are leading to increased populations of homeless horses?

What kind of illogical thought leads some people to want to punish the victims?

 

PACK MENTALITY BLOG: Compassion - teamed with Science and Logic

Members of Federal Wildlife Services routinely engaged in acts of animal cruelty

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A Fox News story published Tuesday reports on routine acts of animal cruelty, by individuals working in the USDA’s Wildlife Services department. One person quoted in the article explains it is part of the job to have dogs attack wolves held in leg-hold traps.

Thankfully, two US Congressman – Rep. John Campbell (R-Calif.) and Rep. Peter Defazio (D-Ore.) are speaking out against these acts of torture to animals.

Agriculture Secretary Thomas Vilsack was quoted in response to the reports:

USDA does not condone any form of animal cruelty and holds all employees responsible for adhering to Departmental and Agency standards and directives.

If Vilsack is true to his words, he will immediately ban the use of leg-hold traps and of course ban the use of dogs to attack wolves. And he should realize that there is a balance of nature to be addressed and killing off segments of the chain of life is no way to oversee ecosystems.

PUPS Act – to close the Internet loophole for dog breeders – was introduced on Wednesday

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Great news today. The Puppy Uniform Protection and Safety Act (The PUPS Act) was introduced Wednesday in the US Congress. And in equally good news, it is a bipartisan effort. The bill’s sponsors, as reported by the USA Today, are Sens. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., and David Vitter, R-La., and Reps. Jim Gerlach, R-Pa., Sam Farr, D-Calif., Bill Young, R-Fla., and Lois Capps, D-Calif.

Online puppy sellers are slipping around USDA regulations and inspections, because the Animal Welfare Act became the law of the land before the Internet rolled around. So the USA Today story notes

The PUPS Act will require all breeders who sell more than 50 dogs annually — whether through pet stores or online — to undergo inspections and meet U.S. Department of Agriculture standards for caring for the dogs.

This should be a sweep in both the House and Senate, but I can image a few uneducated elected officials voting with their special interests puppet masters and against this important legislation.

If passed, we need to see funding made available to the USDA for inspections and more enforcement.

 

Maryland Girl Scouts Troop wins Pack of Compassion Award – for letter to the AKC

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Girl Scout Troop 6811 out of Sandy Spring, Md. wrote a letter recently to the American Kennel Club, asking the organization to drop its opposition to proposed changes to the Animal Welfare Act that would close the loophole in the regulations that too many breeders are jumping through.

The girls want to make sure breeders who sell puppies over the Internet are subjected to regular inspections by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, as other breeders are.

In a statement, the AKC told ABC News, “The AKC believes it is neither the intent of the Animal Welfare Act nor USDA to place such an unfair burden on small, hobby breeders.”

This – of course – is completely twisted thinking, designed to divert the topic from the abuse of dogs in puppy mills. The new regulations would cover breeders who sell over the Internet or through other ads. In fact ALL BREEDERS should engage in humane practices. Why should any dog be abused? People who adopt pets or purchase puppies are not permitted to abuse them, under animal-cruelty laws. All breeders should be held to this standard.

The AKC’s position cannot be defended in any way, shape or form. The organization is fighting against regulations to ensure dogs received veterinary care, time for play and exercise and humane housing.

Several members of the Girl Scouts club were quoted in the ABC News piece, including 11-year old Mary Fran Papalia.

We want breeders, internet or otherwise, to be held accountable for their responsibilities. It’s pretty straightforward. If you are keeping dogs, take care of them.

And the story includes quotes from the Girl Scouts’ letter to the AKC: “We don’t understand why the rules should be different for some people, especially if they are making money by selling dogs, who keep so much of the money that their dogs are suffering.

This seems greedy and wrong to us and we hope it does to you too.”

The AKC’s response was short and non-responsive, as you will read in the article.

Three cheers for Girl Scouts Troop 6811. For their efforts to push the AKC to support compassion for animals, this group of impressive young women earns a very big Pack of Compassion Award.

Make sure you read the ABC News article. It contains some really great information and more quotes from the girls.