Perfect new term for Internet puppy mill sales

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Credit goes to the Chicago Tribune for a perfect headline to describe the sale of puppies over the Internet –

Puppy e-mills” –

The perils of online dog shopping

The editorial under the headline rightfully compares puppy selling on the web to other online activities that “flourish on the Internet — gambling, pornography, investment scams, identity theft.”

Selling over the Web allows breeders to skirt around the current USDA regulations. And these breeders love it that elected officials have protected them for so long. Thankfully, a push is underway for a new law to close the loophole that so many puppy mills have been jumping freely through.

Puppy e-mills – shut ‘em down now. A big thank you to the Chicago Tribune’s editorial board.

Horrible news out of greyhound racing – and a bit of good news

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GREY2K USA co-founder Carey Theil reports this week on some very troubling news out of greyhound racing on his blog, Saving Greys.

It seems the National Greyhound Association claimed the practice of live lure training ended in the 1980s, after a big public outcry. The barbaric training system for racing greyhounds uses live rabbits and I don’t need to tell you what happens to them.

Theil offers a link to a live lure case from 2002. And a Texas trainer had to give up his license in 2011 after a video surfaced of him using live rabbits to train greyhounds. GREY2K’s request for a copy of the video was denied, but they did receive a transcripts and an audio recording, which is included in the blog post.

AND – Across the big pond in the UK, attendance was down for a big-time greyhound race. An Oxford Mail writer used terms like “Oxford’s biggest night of the year” and “prestigious Ladbrokes Pall Mall final.” Wow! I mean even with attendance down one would think something described as “the biggest night of the year” would draw a lot of bodies in the seats.

How many showed up for this “prestigious” event? – less than 500. And what did the writer claim was a typical turnout for a huge dog race? – twice that number. So they’re getting 1,000 people tops for the biggest night of the racing year.

And so what did the writer blame for about 500 people not showing up? – England’s Euro 2012 soccer match against the Ukraine team. On an average night, the third-division professional soccer team in my hometown – in the US – draws more than three times the typical number of fans the Oxford Mail claims are there for a big greyhound race. For a big match, that local soccer team in my area can draw over 5,000 – for US third-division soccer.

In reality, attendance is not down for greyhound racing because soccer is on TV. Attendance is down for greyhound racing because more and more people are learning about the horrors of the sport – industry.

Murphy’s Laws: Gas prices and HOAs

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If rescue dogs could make the laws, things would be quite different. After all, where does it say only humans can be elected to Congress? I mean, are all of them there now really all that human – or humane for that matter?

So we bring in Murphy the rescue lab to offer an on-going list of new laws – MURPHY’S LAWS – from the vault of animal common sense. First up, are a couple of new laws – one animal-related and one not so much.

Federal Statute 1001: As of July 4, 2012 – It will be unlawful for any gas company to sell vehicle fuel with prices that include tenths of a cent. Prices at the pump must be displayed in whole numbers, without the 9/10ths included, so that oil companies will no longer be allowed to insult the intelligence of consumers in this way.

The date of July 4 was selected to correspond with our independence from the tired, old scam that was for too long an effort make the less-informed among us think they were playing a penny less.

Federal Statute 1002: As of – as fast as possible; now would be good – it will be unlawful for Homeowners Associations of any kind to enforce covenants that limit pets. Rescue organizations are having enough trouble finding homes for homeless pets, without little mini-governments banning adoptions.

Global Animal calls out the AKC

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The headline of a Global Animal editorial says it all – “An AKC-Registered Dog Means Less Than You Think.”

Elisabeth Torres writes “many AKC-registered dogs are born in puppy mills” and a “huge chunk of the money that finances the American Kennel Club, and an unbelievable number of dogs come from commercial puppy mill breeders.” And she notes the AKC calls them “high volume breeders” – which accounts for up to an estimated 80 percent of the AKC’s annual income.

I’ve written about the AKC a number of times over the years. The big red flag from the organization is its constant battle against new regulations against puppy mills.

In her piece, Torres includes an extremely important quote from AKC representative Lisa Peterson – “Dogs are property. And we like to leave the option to the owner of the property, of the dog, with the breeder. It’s their decision as to how many intact females to own or how many litters to produce.”

The AKC admits that it is merely a breed registry, which simply verifies that a particular puppy has a known mother and father, born at a licensed USDA facility. The USDA regulations are VERY weak and only cover larger breeders.

So really, an AKC registration does not guarantee health or any sort of real standards and the USDA label offer very little to families seeking a new family member. Yet, what do we see in ads from so many breeders? – A line advertising it’s puppies as being AKC registered.

So the line seems to be – ‘buy our puppies because they’re AKC registered,’ even through it’s not a guarantee you’re getting a healthy puppy from healthy, well-cared-for parents. Sadly, a lot of people just see the AKC label in ad and believe it does mean more than it does. As long as people do that, without taking the time to learn more, this cycle will continue.

So the goal for animals lovers needs to be education and spreading the message that this news puts the adoption of homeless pets that much far above the option of purchasing pets. And we need to keep pushing harder for better regulations on breeding – to ensure the parent dogs are given regular veterinary care and regular periods for play and exercise and humane housing conditions.

Is this too much to ask? It is for some powerful entities, who are regularly fighting against humane housing, regular veterinary care and regular time for exercise. Again, I would not want to be on the side fighting AGAINST compassion.

Lonesome George is dead

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Galapagos National Park announced Sunday the death of Lonesome George, a giant tortoise who was the last of a particular subspecies of giant tortoises from Pinta island.

George was believed to be around 100 years old. That’s old, but giant tortoises can live far beyond that age.

The LA Times reports that thanks to the effort of the park and the Charles Darwin Foundation, their overall population has increased from 3,000 in 1974 to 20,000 today. The numbers took huge downturn open the arrival of humans on the Galapagos Islands.

Rest in peace, George. I only hope your legacy might lead to better protections for endangered species.

Sunday Commentary: Why do we need all of these rescue groups?

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In the last segment of the HBO Documentary “One Nation Under Dog,” text appeared on the screen stating there are hundreds of dog rescue organizations in the US. The documentary was really well-done and I hope it proves to be an eye-opener for those who previously were not aware the realities of homelessness and other issues surrounding animal welfare.

The documentary certainly didn’t pull many punches.

But it struck me that there are actually thousands of dog rescue (and cat rescue) organizations in the United States – not merely hundreds. So just to make sure I wasn’t overstating the numbers in my head, I went to to engage in a couple of searches.

In the “Search For Animal Welfare Groups” box, I pulled up a list of rescue organizations in my home state of North Carolina. A full 459 matches appeared. Some are not dog-specific, but most of them do rescue dogs. And this is just in NC alone.

In New York – the search yielded 669 groups. But in North Dakota it was only 18 total rescue groups. In SC – 203. In California – 1,258. Florida – 700. Obviously, in general terms, the greater the human population, the greater the number rescue organizations.

The higher the human population, the higher the number of irresponsible humans on hand. Irresponsible people and puppy mills and backyard breeders lead to more homeless pets.

That’s thousands of rescue groups across the nation with probably an average of thousands of volunteers in your average state. And why? – because they’re needed. If homelessness was not such a problem, the list under each state on would not be nearly as extensive. The number of rescue organizations in my home city has exploded over the last decade.

On one hand, it is disheartening to realize the number of groups are up due to the level of homelessness. But the good news is there are so many compassionate people who are working within these groups to help.

The people responsible for the number of dogs and cats and other pets who become homeless every day need to be held accountable for their actions. Until these people are held responsible, the problems will continue. These thousands of rescue groups will continue to struggle week after week after year to care for and find homes for millions of dogs and cats – every year.

I liken it to a hole filling with water. The rescue groups are trying to empty the hole, cup by cup. But at the same time, puppy mills and greyhound racing and irresponsible people who refuse to spay and neuter and allow their pets to have litter after litter after litter of offspring are standing on the other side of the hole, filling it with more homelessness.

And to a large extent, the federal government and too many state legislatures are doing very little to nothing to stop the perpetrators from filling the hole with homelessness – a seemingly never-ending flow of irresponsibility, largely fueled by greed or selfishness. So while rescue groups by the thousands battle daily against this flood of greed, irresponsibility and their cousin apathy – dogs and cats are dying by the millions every year.

But the groups battle on. Why? – Because the people who work within these rescue organizations have something sorely lacking on the other side of the equation. The rescue volunteers have compassion. They care about other living beings. People who volunteer in animal rescue; human homeless shelters; organizations to stop child abuse and hunger: cancer walks; anti-bullying campaigns; anti-domestic violence campaigns and more have compassion for others.

In this corner of our tag-team match, we have the reining heavyweight champions – Greed and Selfishness, and their manager – Dirty Money. And in the other corner, we have the underdog – Compassion and Caring.

Pack Topics: Gestation crate legislation; dog fighting; puppy mill punishment

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NJ could ban gestation crates: A bill in the New Jersey legislature could lead to ban on gestation crates and another bill could crack down on the trade of tigers.

State Senator Raymond J. Lesniak is leading the effort and is quoted by NJ Today as saying – “Animals are God’s creations as much as humans. These bills recognize that cruelty to animals and threats to their extinction need to be eliminated.”

The bill concerning the factory farming of pigs means defines the offending practice as the “cruel confinement as crating, confining or tethering a gestating sow in order to prevent the free range of motion.”

47 dogs saved from alleged dog fighting operation: In the Bronx, NY Thursday, 47 dogs were rescued from an alleged dog fighting ring. It appears training and fights were being held in the basement of an apartment building.

45 dogs rescued from Alabama home: A Madison, Ala. couple is facing 47 counts of animal cruelty after 45 dogs were found living in filthy conditions. Another 40 were found dead, as reported by
Very light punishment in Canada for puppy mill operators: The people involved in the preceding two stories will most-likely receive weak sentences if convicted for the crimes they are accused of committing. It is an unfortunate result of the very weak and crime-friendly laws on the books – most notably the laws against animal cruelty.
This is the case in Canada as well, as we see in a case this week where the operators of a puppy will only received a two-year ban on operating a commercial breeding facility. But the Ottawa Sun does report that new regulations in Quebec could lead to lifetime bans in future cases.

Pack Topics: Circus cruelty; puppy mills

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Blog takes on circus cruelty: Karyn Zoldan is one of my favorite fellow animal-welfare bloggers, with her Tucson Tails blog on the Tucson Citizen website.

On Thursday, she wrote about the circus coming to Tucson and Phoenix. A whistle-blower exposed the beatings the elephants endure and the constant confinement of the large cats. The blog entry also includes an interview with an animal advocate who opposes the use of live animals in circuses.

Another suspected puppy mill: Officials with the Berkeley Sheriff’s Office in West Virginia have shut down another suspected puppy mill. This one housed 132 dogs, who now have at least a chance for a much better life.

Hopefully, charges will soon be imposed in this case, as the Charleston Daily Mail reports several of the dogs were dehydrated and underweight and a puppy obtained by investigators “” was in deplorable condition, with fleas, fur matted with feces and scabs on its belly “” and a release noted it was underweight, dehydrated and suffered from intestinal parasites.

Dogs living in conditions like this might be rescued sooner, if every state in the land had better regulations in place, including routine inspections and serious punishment for those who abuse or neglect animals. We need a nation-wide standard for care in all breeding facilities – to include humane housing, regular daily exercise and regular veterinary care.

If restaurants can operate under strict health and cleanliness regulations and regular inspections, then breeders should be able to do the same.


Pack Topics: Greyhound racing; horse racing

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Same old, same old out of the greyhound racing industry. An article posted Wednesday on the Arkansas Times website includes the misstatement from the industry that 90 percent of the dogs are adopted out when they leave racing.

But there are two problems: 1. – The numbers are hidden. And 2. – I once got an insider to admit in a blog comment exchange that he felt it would be silly to count the dogs the industry kills each year in the adoption percentages.

There is a lively exchange in the comment section under the Arkansas Times article and at the end of the story, an update has been posted, noting 47 greyhounds suffered injuries at the at Southland Park between January 1 and June 12, 2012.

AND – A New York Times story posted Tuesday alleges racehorses are being given a performance-enhancing drug made from a material drawn from the backs of a South American frog species. As the lab-testing procedures finally caught up, 30 horses from four states tested positive for dermorphin. It is suspected it helps horses run faster.

This is a key statement from the article: “” Indeed, dermorphin is the latest in a long list of illegal performance-enhancing drugs that have found their way onto racetracks. “”

This is an important indictment of the horse racing industry. One of the primary strategies seems to be to numb the horses to pain, so that they will continue to run through injuries and the pain.