Pack Topics: Puppy mill raid; HSUS report on the AKC hitting the news cycle

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Mississippi puppy mill rescue: Over 70 dogs were rescued Tuesday from an alleged puppy mill in Stone County, Miss. – as reported by the Sun Herald.

The dogs were housed in what was described as “unlivable” conditions – “rusty cages and makeshift shelters covered in urine, feces and roaches with no water and inedible food.”

But as we read stories such as this one, we are reminded of organizations that are fighting to block new regulations on puppy mills:

ABC News is one of the news outlets reporting on the Humane Society of the United States’ report about the American Kennel Club and its frequent battles against new regulations. And Global Animal ran a piece on this topic on its website.

And on both links, we find comments of the same-old-tired variety – many of which attack the HSUS as a way to divert the topic of discussion. The underlying mission is to block any new regulations on puppy mills.

And I’m yet to see anyone make a reasonable argument for allowing dogs to be caged 24/7, without medical care or any time for exercise and play – all of which are vitally important to the health and welfare of the dogs. Opponents are regularly fighting against proposals at the state and federal levels to offer basic care for breeding dogs.

It’s a position lacking in any compassion at all.

Pack Topics: Burning cases alarm animal lovers in Philly; Ocean acidification

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Pet burning cases in Philly: Four cases of someone burning a pet have occurred over the last six weeks in Philadelphia.

On her Philly Dawg blog on the website, Amy Worden is calling it an epidemic. Amy Worden offers links to the four cases and notes there was a fifth recent cruelty case where a woman poured ammonia on two stray cats.

A rise in ocean acid levels: National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration chief Jane Lubchenco told the Associated Press recently that ocean acidification is the “equally evil twin” of climate change.

As we pump more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, more is absorbed by the Earth’s oceans, which is believed to be the cause of this problem. It is a big threat to the health of the coral reefs and marine wildlife.

HSUS slams AKC for not taking a stand against puppy mills

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The Humane Society of the United States is rightfully criticizing the American Kennel Club for fighting against regulations on puppy mills. The HSUS press release includes a statement noting the AKC panders “to the interests of large-scale, commercial breeding facilities rather than serving smaller-scale, high-quality breeders who make up the majority of AKC.”

And this is very important – “The report notes that numerous puppy mill operators who have been charged with animal cruelty have been selling AKC registered puppies and some of them even passed AKC inspections.”

Wayne Pacelle, president and CEO of The HSUS is quoted in the release: “The American Kennel Club bills itself as ‘The Dog’s Champion,’ but our report shows a pattern of activity that is entirely at odds with that self-description. The AKC has opposed more than 80 bills and proposals in the last five years that would have implemented common-sense, humane standards of care at large-scale breeding facilities. We are shocked that a group that should be standing shoulder to shoulder with us is constantly lined up with the puppy mill industry.”

The report draws from several sources of information – from “HSUS-assisted raids of puppy mills,  AKC  “alerts” sent to breeders, materials published on AKC’s website, and AKC’s lobbying activities over the past five years.

A number of findings from the report:

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* – Humane organizations have assisted law enforcement in rescuing suffering dogs from large puppy mills whose operators regularly registered dogs with AKC. In just the past six months, this includes three facilities in North Carolina where more than 250 dogs were caged in squalor. Ironically, the AKC’s primary office is located in Raleigh.

* – Over the past five years, AKC has opposed more than 80 different state bills and local ordinances designed to provide stronger protections for dogs in puppy mills. The group has opposed landmark measures enacted in Missouri, North Carolina, Oregon, West Virginia, Texas, Washington and other states.

* – Since the end of the 1990s, when AKC was facing a boycott of its registry by large-scale, commercial dog breeding facilities, the group has dedicated significant resources to fighting laws that would regulate those facilities.

* – In 2012 alone, AKC asked its supporters to oppose laws in several states that would have required puppy producers to comply with basic care standards; legislation in three states that would have prevented the debarking of dogs without a medical reason; an ordinance in a Tennessee town designed to prevent dogs from being left in hot cars; a Rhode Island state bill to prevent people from chaining or crating a dog for more than 14 hours a day; and a Louisiana state bill that would have prevented breeding facilities from keeping dogs in stacked, wire-floored cages.

* – AKC has attempted to deflect independent regulation of large-scale breeders on grounds that it maintains an internal kennel inspections program, but standards for the program are unclear and its results unpublished. The HSUS report discloses that some puppy mills had been “inspected” by AKC but were still the subject of law enforcement-led rescues – with facility operators later convicted of animal cruelty on account of the poor conditions of their dogs.

* – Most recently, AKC has been lobbying breeders to oppose a proposed U.S. Department of Agriculture rule that would regulate Internet puppy sellers under the federal Animal Welfare Act. AKC’s chair described the regulations as “onerous,” even though the proposal includes exemptions for breeders with fewer than five breeding female dogs as well as breeders who sell only to buyers they meet in person.

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It is time for the AKC to switch sides and join animal-welfare advocates in the effort to shut down puppy mills. The regulations mentioned in the HSUS report – those the AKC has been fighting against – are basic standards, that include basic veterinary care, humane housing that includes space to move around and time for exercise and play.

Once again, I put the argument in the context of what is best for pets in general. Would the AKC or any quality breeder tell a person buying a puppy to take it home and force it to live 24/7 in a tiny cage and to not offer the puppy veterinary care and don’t allow him or her any time at all for play and exercise? No – no one could justify telling people to do any of that. So why is the AKC fighting this basic level of care for breeding dogs?

Pack Topic: Saving tortoises; South Korea to resume whaling

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South Korea fibs about its reasons to resume whaling: Under the false cover of so-called scientific research, South Korea has announced plans to resume whaling. And oh by the way, representatives are talking about how much some people in the country love whale meat.

The Wall Street Journal story notes the “South Korean government cited the country’s long-standing culinary culture of eating whale meat…” So is it research on chewing whale meat? And the country claims whales are eating too many fish. So I wonder about the South Korean government’s  position on humans over-fishing the seas. Fishermen might want to look over their shoulders in that region.

Let’s call it what it is – a lie. For Japan and South Korea or any other nation to claim scientific research as a reason for whaling is supremely dishonest. It is also a slap in the face to real scientists, who actually study whales without killing them under the cover of whaling.

Endangered gopher tortoises rescued from construction site: The Vero Beach Humane Society gets a Pack of Compassion Award for relocating 31 endangered gopher tortoises from a construction site in Florida.

Volunteer Laura Guttridge of the VBHS wrote about the effort for The state of Florida allows developers to pay to plow over the tortoises and their habitat. But prior to this case, the Florida Fish and Wildlife conservation commission did not allow citizens to relocate the tortoises.

It is important to protect animals from being taken by just anybody. But in cases like this, the state would be allowing a developer to smother them to death, while denying people the right to save their lives. There is no logic in that stand, so thankfully more reasonable heads prevailed and the rules were changed to allow the VBHS to relocate them.

Well done.

Pack Bites: Shelter wins award; puppy mill regulations; animal cruelty

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Davidson County, NC shelter wins award: The Humane Society of the United States and the N.C. Voters for Animal Welfare teamed to present a “Shelter We Love” award last month to four municipal shelters, including the one in Davidson County.

The Winston-Salem Journal reports residents worked with the Davidson facility to develop a “fund to help sick and injured animals, increase the number of volunteers, place more dogs and cats into homes, and reduce the shelter’s euthanasia rate.”

But it’s not all good news there. The Davidson County Board of Commissioners failed to vote last year on a motion to shut down the shelters gas chamber. Hopefully, this situation will be corrected soon.

Toledo Area Humane Society supports expanded regulation of online and direct-sale breeders: The Toledo Area Humane Society is speaking out in support of proposed, expanded regulations on dog breeders, specifically those who sell directly to the public through online and other direct-sales avenues.

These breeders are covered under USDA guidelines and are now largely unlicensed. It’s time to close this loophole.

I really like following quote from the Toledo Area Humane Society, as reported by the Toledo Blade – “Providing humane care and safe housing for dogs is not a burden but a fundamental responsibility.”

Animal abuse alleged at Reno Rodeo: The organization Showing Animals Respect and Kindness released video recently it says shows abuse of bucking broncos at the Reno Rodeo in Nevada. The Greenfield Daily Reporter out of Indiana reports the video shows several men shocking the horses with electric prods.


Birds ingesting alarming amount of plastic along west-coast shorelines

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The Canadian Press is reporting on a story that highlights the horrible rate at which irresponsible people are polluting the Earth’s oceans. Necropsies of deceased birds are finding their stomachs are full of pieces of plastic.

Once again, as is the case with the extreme level of homelessness in cats and dogs, irresponsible people are to blame.

The Canadian Press story reports bellyfuls of plastic were found in 93 percent of the necropsies performed on 67 beached seabirds from the coasts of B.C., Washington and Oregon, between October 2009 and April 2010. One bird had 454 pieces of plastic in its stomach.

I wonder how far beyond the upper-west coach this problem exists.

When irresponsible people toss their trash into rivers and streams and tidal creeks and along shorelines, this is the end result. It’s sad to consider what these people are doing to our planet – one irresponsible person at a time – all around the globe.

Genetic disorders in purebred dogs

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A column written by Dr. Patty Khuly was published June 20 on the Huffington Post website. In her editorial piece, Khuly explains how people frequently bring purebred dogs to her veterinary office with medical problems.

She says – “I’m willing to go on record and say that I generally observe at least one genetic disease in nine out of 10 purebred patients during their first examination with me.” She goes on to note that the mixed-breed dogs she sees frequently have problems as well, but these conditions are typically a “result of their discernible purebred parentage.”

The culprits are “line breeding, the failure to adequately test parents for genetic diseases and the trend among show breeders toward increasingly exaggerated features.”

From what I’ve been told, greyhound racing engages in line breeding. We see what happens with greyhounds, who, for example, have the highest incidence of osteosarcoma of ANY breed of dog.

All of these statements are important enough to highlight from the editorial here as direct quotes. Dr. Khuly is stepping to the forefront to shine a light on a problem that too often goes unreported. I can’t count how many people I’ve seen in veterinary offices talking about the knee surgeries their purebred dogs have undergone.

It isn’t being put together and reported for what it is. It’s a real problem, from cancers to physical abnormalities such a deformed hips and ligament problems in knees to more. There are good, quality breeders in this country, who track this sort of thing and adjust their practices accordingly. But too many are sending out puppies like so many microwave ovens off an assembly line, with too little concern for health.

More people in the medical profession and breeding profession need to step forward to bring this issue to the forefront. I applaud Dr. Khuly. She calls it “morally correct” to adopt homeless pets and urges her clients to adopt mixed-breed dogs.


Movie includes an animal welfare message

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I was taking a brief break today to flip through a few cable TV channels to see if anything interesting hit me. I stopped on a movie channel that was showing a film set in Africa. The scenes of wildlife caught my attention.

One of the characters was looking for white rhinos. The description of the film on the cable guide noted he was a zoologist.

When three people on screen came across the body of a dead rhino with its horn cut off, the zoologist stopped and said, “Stupid, ignorant. That animal walked this Earth at least 4 million years before man ever stood up straight. Killed for the horn.”

The movie was “Rhino!” – from 1964. That’s 48 years ago that murdering animals for their horns was being depicted in a negative light. We are 48 years later and it is still happening. We have advanced in many ways over five decades. But in some ways, elements of barbaric behaviors and acts such as – against humans and animals – are still around.

It is sad. And it is sad that not enough is being done to prevent it.

Sunday Commentary: Understanding Animal Rights

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I often read comments or commentary about this notion of animal rights vs. animal welfare. The depiction often suggests people pushing for animal rights are extremist. The term has been warped – wrongly – into meaning animal rights equals human rights.

So in an effort to twist, wrangle and shut down the movement for better laws to protect animals from cruelty, one side is trying to make sure the message that gets out is one where animals will be given all the rights and privileges of humans. That is clearly a wild pile of what my dogs leave for me to scoop in the backyard.

Because the word ‘rights’ is used in the phrase ‘animal rights,’ suddenly it’s made out to mean animals will get every human right imaginable. No one is suggesting this on the animal-lover side of the room, at least as far as I’ve heard. No one is calling for animals to be able to get married. No one is calling for animals to be able to register to vote or own cars or get drivers licenses.

No one is suggesting animals should be able to own guns or receive equal pay or join unions. (Wildlife owning guns would, I guess, make hunting interesting.) But what we really want to see are laws enacted that protect animals from cruelty and neglect. Yes, we want animals to have rights. The kind of rights that ensure they can live without facing brutality at the hands of the species that is supposed to be the most advanced on the planet.

It really is not too much to ask. It really is not extreme. It is reasonable and logical and compassionate. It’s not ‘animal welfare’ vs. ‘animal rights.’ It is animal rights from animal welfare.

Pack Topics: Dog fighting; puppy mills

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Senate hits at harsher penalties attending dog and cock fights: The US Senate has added a provision to its latest Farm Bill that would toughen up the sentencing and fines for those convicted of attending dog fights or cock fights – and imposes extra penalties for those who bring along a minor. The vote for the amendment was 88-11. The question becomes – who could vote against it?

Hopefully, the 11 merely thought it should be a separate bill altogether. The US House is still working on its version of the Farm Bill.

Dog rescued from Missouri fighting ring fighting for his life: A severely injured dog was rescued Friday from a fighting ring in St. Louis, Mo. Surgeons had to amputate his injured leg and at last report Norm was in critical condition.

Raid on alleged puppy mill in Arkansas: More than 100 dogs found in “deplorable conditions” were seized from a property in Lonoke County, Ark. Thursday afternoon. The dogs were reportedly caged in areas with little cold water or shade, in temperatures reaching nearly 110 degrees.

Charges are pending against the property owner.