Rep. Steve King’s defense of his dog-fighting statements only getting worse

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Rep. Steve King of Iowa, who is now infamous for defending dog fighting, is trying to defend his opposition to a proposed federal law to make it illegal to attend a dog fight or prompt others to do so.

He’s only making matters worse for his unbelievably callus stand. The Des Moines Register reports he questioned if dog fighting is even in practice now. The publication quotes King as saying, “There’s no federal nexus in what goes on in an animal fight, if they actually take place anymore — I’m not hearing that they do.”

One person commenting below the story called King, “extremely ill-informed.” This is actually overstating King’s level of intelligence. He’s worse than ill-informed. He’s completely clueless and is clueless to how clueless he is.


2,500 beagles rescued from Italian breeder that supplies to research facilities

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The debate on the use of animals in research should be ramped up by the news Thursday out of Italy, where 2,500 beagles were rescued from breeding operation.

An article by Nature published last week reports a court ruled the allegations of mistreatment of the dogs warranted investigation and apparently the removal of the dogs. The dogs are going to foster homes while the investigation continues.

The main article did not report on the conditions of the dogs, but an update notes – “The court said it was concerned that some puppies came down with diarrhoea and respiratory conditions. Andy Smith, vice-president of Marshall Biosciences which owns Green Hill, says the conditions occurred when the company was banned from caring for the animals.”

Why would the facility be banned from caring for the animals? This sounds like the typical spin from a puppy mill breeder.

An article from Opposing Views asks the question – Is animal research necessary? And it links to another Nature piece concerning a panel discussion in 2010 at UCLA.

The point is made that animal testing in too many cases fails to predict results for humans and much of it is unnecessary. The other side, of course, claims the successes are enough to allow the research to go on.

I fully understand that some research has resulted in the development of drugs or treatment for humans. But it is clear we need FAR MORE in the way of regulation. Too often, we’re reading about animals suffering horribly in research labs. And as is the case with puppy mills, it seems the exposure of the horrors routinely comes from undercover video or someone who just happens to report the horrors.

The Italian breeding facility was reportedly inspected regularly. Was this like the AKC inspecting kennels?

And what about redundant testing? This has certainly been the case for the cosmetic industry. I know the other side will bring up the notion that testing needs to carry so many case trials before a result might be concluded. But how many times do they need to pour a particular chemical into a rabbit’s eyes before you conclude it’s not a good thing. They’ve been doing this for decades.

I can only conclude that some testing continues long after a conclusion has been reached, merely to keep the facility in operation – to justify its existence. It is long-past time to completely reevaluate animal testing and toss out the aspects where logic concludes it can be banned – and where modern technology offers an alternative. At least we can do this.

And in areas where it might continue, we need extremely stringent regulations and oversight. The treatment and care of the animals should be covered under strict guidelines. And we need for the curtain to be lifted on this research. It needs a lot of sunshine.

More proof that current puppy mill laws are not enough

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A breeding couple in Jones County, NC faced 19 counts of misdemeanor animal cruelty this week in court, for operating a puppy mill. The pair pleaded guilty and therefore received a very light punishment for their terrible deeds. Back in May of this year, the same couple was found guilty in district court to 38 similar counts.

The Jacksonville Daily News quoted District Attorney Ernie Lee as saying, “Many of the dogs were emaciated or had serious medical conditions including severe hair loss, skin infections, dehydration, gum disease, loss of teeth and gastro intestinal issues.”

Kim Alboum, the state’s director of the Humane Society of the United States, reported the dogs were soaked in feces and urine.

So what so-called punishment did the court hand out, while basically admitting the laws are so weak in North Carolina the its hands were tied? They got 270 days of incarceration, but the time was suspended for five years, if they honor the terms of the probation. And to make matters even worse, they are only prohibited from having animals for the next five years.

The request for about $18,000 in restitution to cover medical treatment and housing for the rescued dogs, was denied by the court. Why? – Because it was ruled they were not financially able to pay it. So when it was all said and done, no punishment at all was handed down in this case.

In North Carolina and in too many other states, it is only a misdemeanor to torture animals in this way. The conditions described in this case should always lead to felony charges, which should include a lifetime ban on possessing animals and much more.

According to the Daily News story, this puppy mill facility was uncovered for one reason -because a customer decided to report the mill to law enforcement. Without a system in place that includes licensing and routine inspections, puppy mills are only reported in cases where someone happens to feel suspicious.

This case clearly exposes huge gaps in the current laws. This is THE example to cite to show we need licensing and inspections. It would be horribly callus and uncaring to suggest other dogs and cats, by more than hundreds of thousands in mills across the country, should continue to suffer in agony for years, waiting for a slim hope that someone might report their torturers.

Two stories show the two sides of our society

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I will never be able to understand the mentality it must take to abuse a child or an animal. It is perplexing to consider that while our society includes people with great levels of compassion, it also includes people capable of terrible acts committed on innocent people and creatures of this planet.

Two stories came to attention today that highlight this divide.

My brother Mark sent me the link to a Huffington Post story about a Wisconsin man who regularly takes his elderly dog down to the warm waters of Lake Superior. He does this to help ease the pain of arthritis. He floats him in the water as Shep relaxes and falls asleep.

The photo, which is the centerpiece of the feature, is very touching. The man said the Shep saved his live, coming to live with him in a troubled time in his life.

And then we have the Associated Press story about hundreds of malnourished cockfighting roosters that were euthanized after being found at a business in Southern California. It is not the first time this year that huge numbers fighting roosters were discovered and later killed in California. The Ventura County Star reports about “1,000 roosters were euthanized in late January near Oxnard.”

What sort of warped mentality allows some people to engage in acts like cockfighting?

Let’s work together on anti-puppy mill legislation

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I want to keep hammering away at this puppy mill topic, to ride the tide of media attention swirling around the state of North Carolina right now, in the wake of another puppy mill raid.

So what better time than now to put our Pack of Brains together once again for another round of BUILD THAT BILL – to develop the best possible legislation to attack this huge problem of puppy-mill breeding. At the risk of sending the AKC and its brethren into a mental meltdown, let’s get started. You can chime in with your proposals in the comment section.

Regular Exercise and Play: Breeding dogs will be allowed X hours of time outside of their cages/kennels. (This one is extremely important, as no breeder should be allowed to cage their dogs 24/7.)

Minimum Age Restrictions: The sale of puppies under the age of 12 weeks will be prohibited. Breeders will be required to allow the puppies to remain with moms and siblings throughout this stag in their lives. (This is extremely important to proper socialization.)

Regular Veterinary Care: Breeders will be required to offer their breeding dogs and puppies regular veterinary checkups, care and vaccinations. Breeders found to have failed to offer a dog or dogs veterinary care for injuries or other serious medical conditions – within a reasonable time frame – will be subject to having their license revoked.

That’s a start to build on. So what are your suggestions?

Pack Topics: Puppy sales; animal cruelty-human cruelty links

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The Los Angeles city council could vote soon to ban stores from selling puppies from large-scale breeders – and the ban would include rabbits and kittens.

The LA Times editorial rightfully supports the move.

And’s Health section ran an article Sunday by Diane Russell Girardot, L.P.C., under the headline – “Abuse toward animals may predict violent behavior toward humans.”

Girardot sites studies by the FBI and University of Florida. We need to see more information like this reported in more publications. And our criminal justice justice system needs to fully understand this connection and adjust its punishments accordingly for acts of animal cruelty.

And we need policies in place nationwide that offer mental health programs that can work in conjunction with the criminal justice system.

Latest puppy-mill raid in NC renews push for breeding legislation in the state

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The news concerning a puppy mill raid in Southeastern North Carolina seems to be drawing some important attention from the state’s media outlets. And WRAL is reporting a state lawmaker is planning to introduce a new bill next year to regulate the industry.

Hopefully, the recent raids across the state will finally be the push we need to change the minds of enough lawmakers. In every recent case where we’ve seen an anti-puppy bill introduced in the North Carolina legislature, groups like the American Kennel Club and the NRA have fought against them.

But maybe this time, the will of the people and compassion for animals will finally win the day.

Delaware and Massachusetts strengthen animal welfare laws

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The weekend went pretty well for domestic animals in Massachusetts and Delaware, as the states’ governors signed into law new protections for pets.

In Massachusetts on Thursday, Governor Deval Patrick signed “An Act Further Regulating Animal Control” into law. The legislation sets up a fund for homeless animals, institutes new rules that allow pets to be included in domestic protection orders, bans euthanasia in gas chambers, prohibits discrimination against any dog breed, increases fines for animal cruelty and more.

Over in Delaware, Gov. Jack Markell signed a bill into law that will designate tethering as animal cruelty, specifically tethering a dog for 18 or more hours in any 24-hour period.


Puppy mill raided in North Carolina; over 160 dogs rescued

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A sting operation in Brunswick and New Hanover counties in North Carolina uncovered an alleged puppy-mill operation spread over both counties.

WWAY quoted Brunswick County Sheriff John Ingram as saying, “I’m shocked to say the least. Personally I’ve never seen anything quite like this. The inside of the residences and behind the residence are some of the worst conditions I’ve ever experienced on anything I’ve ever been on.”

Over 160 animals, living in inhumane conditions were found in the Brunswick County residence. It is believed the couple involved was selling puppies out of a home in the other county.

WECT reported deputies worked with members of the SPCA and the Humane Society of the U.S. on the raids. The pair running the operation could be charged with multiple counts of animal cruelty.

WECT also quoted Kim Alboum, the director of the NC state chapter of the HSUS as saying, “these are the worst conditions I have ever seen.” Four rescue groups are helping by taking in the rescued dogs. out of the Triad area of the state reports many of the rescued dogs had gastrointestinal infections, fleas and worms. A number of the older dogs were reported to have genetic defects, including one blind dog that was still being used for breeding.

Stories such as this highlight the need for improved breeding regulations and much harsher punishment. All commercial breeders should be required to be licensed and should be inspected on a regular basis. Breeders found to be operating without a license should face serious – very serious – punishment.

WBTV reports 57 of the rescued dogs quotes Shelly Moore, president of the Humane Society of Charlotte: “We see a lot of puppy mills in NC and the number one reason is because NC is one of few states that does not have any regulation on commercial dog breeding.”

Some might suggest this latest bust and others like it show existing laws are working, but they would be wrong on that count. By the time the mills are raided, the dogs have suffered for extended periods of time. And the raids are usually a result of random tips.

We need programs in every state where breeders are registered and subject to unannounced inspections. It works for restaurants and it should happen with commercial breeders.


Science news for animals and ecosystems

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The BP Gulf Oil Gusher continues to impact the Gulf of Mexico’s ecosystem.

MSNBC reports the 1.8 million gallons of chemical dispersant used to break up the giant oil slicks is causing some real problems. A study released Tuesday suggests the dispersant hurt microorganism populations, which impacts the animals up the food chain.

The story also notes dolphins are dying and those still living and were in contact with the oil are being found to have “pulmonary issues, chronic low weight, anemia and low levels of hormones.”

AND – posted a headline last week reading – ” ‘Organ Chips’ Could Replace Animal Experiments.”

The amazing goal, one that could help to end suffering for many lab animals, is contained in one important paragraph from the article

“” A $70 million research project that will develop transparent silicon microchips with hollow channels that contain actual living human tissue and pumps to replicate organ function is underway and is predicted to provide faster, cost-effective and more accurate results for testing diseases, toxins and pharmaceuticals – all on something about the size of a flash drive. “”