Sadly, a California veterinary association supports puppy sales in stores

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As a freelance journalist, I really like to read very informative articles and columns. And to me, journalism is all about getting to the heart of a topic or issue and/or exposing something very important. And when a journalist can get someone to expose something important about themselves or a related organization, that is some piece of good work, in my view.

Erika I. Ritchie put all of this together in an article posted Sunday on the Orange County Register website. Several cities in the California county are banning the sales of puppies in stores. This sort of ban needs to go nationwide. People purchasing puppies and kittens need to be assured that the breeding facilities involved are engaging in humane practices. Way too often, this is not the case when animals are purchased in stores.

Amazingly, the Southern California Veterinary Medical Association has taken a stand AGAINST bans on the sale of puppies in stores. The SCVMA suggests great strides have been made, and current laws are requiring “healthy conditions.” Thankfully, article leads with a story about a sick puppy purchased from a California pet shop. And at least a couple of readers commented under the article about sick puppies purchased at stores.

The reality is far more needs to be done to shut down puppy mills and to improve conditions at far too many mass-breeding facilities in the US.

I feel compelled to put it this bluntly: The leadership of the SCVMA needs to educate itself in the reality of what is happening in puppy mills that supply to pet stores. They need to educate themselves to the practices of quality breeders and compare these practices to those of mass-production breeders where dogs are caged 24/7 or nearly 24/7.

Animals have both physical and emotional needs. The regulations need to catch up the emotional health concerns, along with the physical needs.

Ritchie does a good job of giving both sides a voice in her article. The animal-welfare take is expressed in this sentence: “” Pet stores selling puppies and kittens that harbor birth defects due to bad breeding, behavioral problems due to early life in a cage and diseases from the stress of commercial breeders transporting them throughout the country. “”

And I would add the fact that separating puppies from their moms and siblings too soon is setting them up for behavioral problems. Too often, this means these dogs will die in shelter somewhere.

Ritchie reports Dr. Peter Weinstein and Dr. Peter Vogel of the SCVMA recently wrote letter to the Laguna Beach City Council before its vote on a pet store puppy sales ban.  The pair seemed to focus on consumer demand ‘for 8 million puppies and kittens in America each year.’

So that makes it okay to sell through puppy mills? – Really? And this quote is included from the letter: “Consumers do not look to rescue or shelter adoption for puppy and kitten acquisition.”

Informed “consumers” do adopt from rescues and shelters and the numbers are growing. And informed consumers do NOT consider adopting a pet to be an “acquisition.” The statements made by the SCVMA representatives heavily lean to protecting stores and breeders, as opposed to protecting animals.

Veterinary medical associations should not be out to promote or protect businesses. Veterinary medical associations should be focused on protecting the health and welfare of animals. I was VERY pleased with the American Veterinary Medical Association’s recent move to modify its official proclamation to include an affirmation of its support for animal welfare.

The veterinarians on front lines see the problems, face to face. As is the case with this information from the article –

Dr. Michael Ontiveros, who owns Estrella Veterinary Hospital in San Clemente, said he sees a host of problems from pets purchased at the puppy mill furnished stores.

“To me it’s about the pets,” he said. “Why don’t we educate the pet stores about the problem with the puppy mills? They need to make good choices. I don’t like puppy mills. I don’t like what I see coming from there.”

And the vet who treated the case reported in the lead of the article was reportedly saddened by the stand of the SCVMA.

It’s not about what is best for consumers. It should not be about what is best for mass-production breeders. It should be about the welfare of the animals and it should be about compassion.

The evidence mounts against horse racing

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Another huge story has hit the web, highlighting the ills of horse racing. Anytime you put animals in the path of gambling or corporate profit, the animals are at risk to get steamrolled by dollar bills.

The New York Times reports the trainer of Kentucky Derby winner I’ll Have Another has a history of violations. Doug O’Neill has “more than a dozen violations for giving his horses improper drugs” – according to the Times article.

The cases were spread over four states over 14 years. The NY Times also analyzed his horses’ tendencies to break down and reported “the horses he trains break down or show signs of injury at more than twice the rate of the national average.”

And then there is this troubling sentence from the story – “” The racing industry has come to realize that lax regulation and the absence of meaningful punishment have fostered a culture where top trainers with multiple drug violations are more the rule than the exception. “”

Translation: The industry has looked the other way while these violations have gone on.

So are we to believe that suddenly, after years of negative information coming out of horse racing – about the drugging of horses and horses being raced at too young an age and race horses being routinely sent off to slaughter after they are of no more value to the industry – that now the powers that have suddenly seen the light?

The problem is it’s too tempting. The money is a carrot on a stick – a very big, pricey carrot on a stick. Gotta find a way to reach the big money. Gotta get an edge.

It’s time to shut it down. Let everybody gamble on the cards and dice and other table games. Cards, dice and slot machines can’t suffer. Cards, dice and slot machines are not sent off to slaughter; to suffer in horrible fear, through the pain of a bolt through the skull or a gun blast.

It’s time to shut it down – dog and horse racing.

Hero pet and hero person

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I just found two great stories that once again reaffirm our connection with our animals.

The winner of the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Los Angeles’ 30th National Hero Dog Award has been announced and it’s Bear, a 100-pound Shiloh German shepherd rescued from a Texas animal shelter three years ago.

Bear’s guardian had a seizure last May and lost consciousness when she fell hit her head. The Associated Press reports Bear raced from house to house, scratching on doors for help. A county animal control officer saw him and followed him to home.

The dog then jumped into the ambulance to accompany his guardian to the hospital.

And a woman in Massachusetts saved her 9-year-old golden retriever  from a bear attack, using a toy sword.  She waved the toy at the bear and banged it on a stone wall and screamed until bear had enough, stopped its attack on her dog left the yard.

That’s some kind of brave stuff there.

Puppy mill news out of New York, Indiana and Oklahoma

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Puppy mills are back in the news in a big way over the last couple of days. In my view, the more we see headlines about puppy mills – the better. Hopefully, it will open more eyes.

A new bill in New York State (A.10150) would increase standards of care for dogs in large-scale breeding operations. Hopefully, it will pass without delay.

The NWI Times reported Thursday on the Indiana Supreme Court’s review of cases where the state seized puppies from suspected puppy mill breeders with unpaid taxes. Hopefully, the ultimate ruling will not negatively impact the state’s ability to shut down puppy mills.

And in Oklahoma, it looks like some elected officials want to gut important regulations on puppy mill breeders, through the new House Bill 2912. The new bill calls for the state Department of Agriculture to set breeding regulations, while dropping the past upgrades to the rules.

An editorial posted Thursday on TulsaWorld.com suggests this means that in the meantime there would be no regulations on breeders, until the Department of Agriculture got around to setting the new regulations. When that happened, soft might be the proper terminology for what will happen.

Oklahoma offers a clear example of why we need to see the new federal guidelines pass to cover breeders who sell over the Internet and though other means.

USDA’s new proposed rules for dog breeders could help shut down more puppy mills

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It is at least a couple of decades past due, but we might finally see Internet sales and other retail sales of puppies covered under the Animal Welfare Act.

The change in the Animal Welfare Act has been on the table for some time now, but it is again a hot topic in the news this week, with the USDA proposal in the headlines.

The Washington Post reports the new regulations would cover breeders who breed more than four females and sell over the Internet, by mail or through phone sales. They will fall under the same guidelines as wholesale breeders. And this is the important change, as reported by the Washington Post – “” Sellers either must open their doors to the public so buyers can see the animals before they purchase them, or obtain a license and be subject to inspections by the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service. “”

The time is now for the federal government and all state governments to get serious about shutting down puppy mills. The horrible suffering has gone on for far too long.

The new regulations are getting bipartisan support in the US Congress. This is really great news! The bad news is it still doesn’t cover so-called backyard breeders who sell locally from their homes.

The Philly Dawg blog on Philly.com jumped on the news yesterday and and reported a large number of breeders in Pennsylvania have dropped their USDA licenses of late to sell over the Internet and slide by any oversight.

The Humane Society of the United States is applauding the move:

Pack Line Headlines 5.11.12: Animal cruelty, factory farming

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Ohio ranks low in punishment for animal cruelty – News Channel 5 out of Columbus investigated the state of Ohio’s animal cruelty laws and found them weak when compared to other states.

An act of animal cruelty is a second-degree misdemeanor in Ohio for a first offense. The news outlet reports animal cruelty is a felony in 44 other states. The state ranked No. 45 in 2010 and No. 36 in 2011 in the Humane Society of the United States’ yearly “Humane State Ranking.”

Sadly, the Ohio Farm Bureau Federation is against making penalties more severe for animal cruelty.

Wyoming pig farm accused of animal cruelty – The Wyoming Tribune Eagle ran a story today about the release of a HSUS video showing alleged acts of cruelty at Wyoming Premium Farms in Wheatland.

The article includes this – “” The video shows workers drop-kicking live piglets and whipping sick ones around in circles. “”

And thankfully, the article reports some good news – including the fact that eight states have banned the use of gestation crates for pigs. And Safeway, McDonald’s, Burger King and Wendy’s have all announced timelines for no longer purchasing produces from facilities that use gestation crates.

Arizona Governor signs measure to reduce number of annual races at Tucson Greyhound Park

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Grey2K USA reports today that Arizona Governor Jan Brewer has signed a measure that will reduce the number of required dog racing days at Tucson Greyhound Park. The number will now be 100 days per year.

On his Saving Greys blog, Carey Theil states, “This is a huge step forward for Arizona’s greyhounds.” It is just that. It’s a great step in the right direction, a positive step to the ultimate goal of shutting down dog racing everywhere.

 

Pack Line Headlines for 5.10.12: Horse racing, puppy mills, animal cruelty laws

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HSUS offers reward for exposing puppy mills – As the Humane Society of the United States focuses on Puppy Mill Action Week, the organization is offering a $5,000 reward for any information leading to the arrest and conviction of anyone operating a puppy mill.

The number to report an anonymous tip is 877-MILL-TIP.

The Philly Dawg blog on Philly.com recently posted on this news and also discovered Humane Society University and notes the site has added an online course for those focused on shutting down puppy mills.

New York State could strengthen anti-cruelty laws – The New York State Senate Agricultural Committee conducted a public hearing Wednesday concerning the states existing animal-cruelty laws.

On her Examiner.com blog, Amy Rossi violations of animal cruelty are merely considered violations of the “agriculture and markets” law.

Let’s hope these hearings will soon lead to much more severe penalties for those who torture animals.

Very odd suggestion for horse racing on Wall Street Journal Sports page – An article posted on the Wall Street Journal website on May 3 offers the odd suggestion that horse racing might be better without the jockeys.

One jockey is quoted as saying the races are “probably 95% horse, 5% rider.” But then a few paragraphs down we see this quote from a trainer – “Jockeys are pound for pound the best athletes in the world.”

Nothing against jockeys personally, but I don’t think that statement carries a lot of accuracy at all. And the article focuses a bit on jockey injuries but not injuries and deaths for the horses.

If horse racing is struggle as an industry and needs a change, I’d suggest shutting it down, as opposed to turning it into greyhound racing. We’ve got enough animal exploitation. Let people gamble on pro sports, dice, cards and other games. Let the horses and greyhound live a much happier life.