Sunday, April 5, 2015

Defeat of Controversal Proposed Breeder Registration Laws

Many thanks to the American Kennel Club, the Nashville Kennel Club, and the Tennessee Federation of Dog Clubs for all of their hard work in defeating the outrageous breeder bills that were proposed in Tennessee this year. The bills would have affected anyone who owned 10 bitches. Even people who did not breed dogs would have been affected! They were unbelievably intrusive and controlling. You can read a copy of the 18-page bill here.
 

You can also watch the hearings where the bills were discussed in committee. On the 24th, and on the 31st.

Most of all, thank you to every single person in Tennessee who called and e-mailed the committee members. They said they were absolutely flooded with calls about these bills, most of them OPPOSED! Thank you. YOU defeated these bills.

Carlotta



Tennessee Federation of Dog Clubs - All Members

       This has probably been the toughest legislative year ever in the
history of the Tennessee Federation of Dog Clubs (TFDC).  The animal
rightist. Humane Society of the United States, ASPCA, PETA and a number of other
national and state groups had worked secretly for months trying to craft
legislation they could slip in at the eleventh hour.  We nor the AKC
were ever apprised of the expected legislation. We saw no advance copy
and were never invited to have any input prior to the legislation being
introduced which was just last week.

       The complicated 18 page document was most definitely aimed at us
but under the guise of trying to eliminate puppy mills. Tuesday a
lengthy 14 page amendment to the bill was added to the docket of the
House and Senate committees handling the bill.  (Tuesday was the last
day the committees were to meet this legislative session.  It was a do
or die for the animal rightist organizations.

       This past Tuesday was one of the most drama filled days I have
ever witnessed at the state capitol in my life time.  Here is a sequence
of events that unfolded:

1) The animal rightist brought in folks from all over the state and the
big guns from Washington, DC.

2) The House Business & Utilities Committee met at 1:30.PM.  There was a
packed house with standing   room only. The sponsor introduced the
breeder registration bill.  He also gave notice of his new amendments
which only made the bill worse for us.  The chairman of the committee
then allowed a few speakers from the audience.

3) The lobbyist for the animal rights groups spoke and told lie after
lie.  She said the AKC and our group had worked with them on the bill
and then turned against it at the last moment. Not true.  To hear her
tell it anyone who bred a litter of puppies was the enemy.  She also
implied that the sheriff's and police chief's organizations supported
the bill.  Not true.

4) A lobbyist for the Humane Society of the United States also spoke and told the
same lies.  He also added that we had generated many calls from out of
state with attempts to tell Tennessee law makers how to vote.  Not true.
  He also stated that Tennessee was the only state in the nation that
previously had a breeder bill as state law and then lost it last
session.  That was true and we did it.

5) I spoke on behalf of the TFDC and hope that I did well and corrected
the lies that were told.  One of the legislators on the committee
commented that he had received more calls against this bill than any
other this session.  Two others agreed with him.

6) A vote was then taken on the amendments that were offered up by the
sponsor of the bill.  A couple of legislators immediately walked out for
"parts unknown.  The vote was four to four and died for lack of a
majority.  At that point the sponsor asked to withdraw his bill and roll
it over to the 2016 session.

7) We walked out relieved and the animal rightist were extremely mad,
unhappy.and wanting to know what went wrong.

8) Melissa Bast, our state lobbyist is preparing a report and she will
provide the names of the legislators that voted for the bad legislation
and those that supported us and were against the bill.

9) For the next several hours heavy lobbying went on all over the
legislative plaza until the Senate Commerce and Labor Committee met at
3:30 PM.  Again the even larger committee room was full with the walls
lined with people and even more outside.  Our bill was one of the last
to come up about 5:45 PM.  The sponsor of the bill got up and quickly
asked that the committee vote to defer or roll the legislation over to
2016.  We quickly departed while the animal rightist seemed to be
totally absent.  I think they had received word that there was no way
that the senate committee was going to pass the bill.

10) Now we really go to work and organize every county in our state.  We
are going to need your help.

Regards,

       Dr. S.M. Dick Dickerson, President, Tennessee Federation of Dog
Clubs.

Monday, December 1, 2014

Here We Go Again: Elections, Bills, and Politicians

Now that the midterm elections have passed and the Republican “wave” has washed over the country, it's time to think about the next legislative session and what it holds in store for dog owners and breeders.

The Humane Society of the United States is an equal opportunity abuser of the political system. They donate to legislators in both major political parties. However, right after the election, Wayne Pacelle seemed unusually candid on his blog:


Staying the Course, No Matter the Obstacles
Wayne Pacelle

National, state, and local elections are obvious pivot points in the
task of governing, with changes that voters usher in signaling small or
large course corrections. With the Republicans’ second wave election in
four years – interrupted by the reelection of a Democratic president two
years ago – we are likely to see more suspicion about attempts to place
limits on the mistreatment of animals. The HSUS and its political
affiliate, the Humane Society Legislative Fund, enjoy broad bipartisan
support for our values with the broad swath of American voters. But we
generally meet with more skepticism from Republican lawmakers, who are
critical of some forms of regulatory oversight and in a number of cases
are closely allied with our political adversaries at the NRA, the Farm
Bureau, and other animal-use industries. Indeed, in the last few years,
we’ve seen vigorous efforts to pass so-called “ag-gag” bills and even
measures to limit citizen initiative rights, among other forms of
obstructionism...


 
Wayne doesn't sound very happy about the outcome of the midterm elections or very optimistic about working with Republican lawmakers.

Me? I don't care about parties or that other stuff they try to ask you in exit polls. I am one of those terrible single issue people. My vote depends on animals. Okay. I suppose I might be swayed if I learned that a candidate was a cannibal. And I absolutely, positively will not vote for anyone from that clan who lived next to my mother's clan in Scotland and started a feud in 603 AD. That's for sure. But otherwise, it's all about opposing animal rights.

Fortunately, I don't think I know any cannibalistic politicians (as far as I am aware) and I try not to inquire about people's clan affiliations.

We were modestly successful in Tennessee in the recent election in saying buh-bye to a couple of pro-AR representatives on the House Ag committee. They had been endorsed by the AR group Tennessee Voters for Animal Protection – a group with ties to the ultra animal rights group the Animal Legal Defense Fund (ALDF). The local group has also been petitioning to have pet bills moved from the agriculture committees – which are usual first stops for these bills – to more AR-friendly committees. We suspect they would like to send their anti-tethering, anti-breeder, and other AR-inspired bills to the judiciary committees. On the House side, the Criminal Justice committee includes Rep. William Lamberth – a man who has his own page of praise on the ALDF web site.


Lamberth was responsible for passing security bond legislation in Tennessee that requires people to put up a bond to cover the cost of care for animals from the time they are seized until after the trial. Obviously, this is an enormous amount of money in most cases and most people can't afford it – meaning that they forfeit their animals before a case even goes to trial. In many situations, the case never goes to trial at all. Charges are dropped or reduced, yet the owner has surrendered all of their animals. There is no possibility of getting your animals back once you have surrendered them. They have already been sold/adopted to pay for their “care,” even though they might only be in the hands of rescue for a few days. Serious breeders can lose animals worth many thousands of dollars. In the case of a woman who bred parrots in Tennessee, she was forced to surrender parrots worth $40,000 because of Lamberth and his work. The tame parrots and those which had been taught to talk were sold and the others went to a “rescue” in Maryland where they died from neglect. What kind of justice is that? This AR darling is on the House Criminal Justice committee and we think that's why AR groups in the state have been trying to get pet bills moved from the Ag committees – where their bills have been dying – to a committee like this one. Yet Lamberth ran unopposed and was re-elected in the recent election. Most people are unaware of how these laws can affect them.

We do expect to see a renewed attempt to pass a commercial breeder law in Tennessee in 2015. As I never get tired of telling people, we got rid of our commercial breeder law this year. And how did that happen? Because a) the original law was passed with a sunset provision; and b) the program was losing $300,000 per year. There were only 21 breeders signed up with the program. Even all the smoke and mirrors that HSUS specializes in couldn't blind legislators to the fact that this program was a loser and it deserved to die. No amount of snake oil could cure that dead horse.

It came as no surprise, then, when HSUS and the Animal Rescue Corps (ARC), led by the notorious Scotlund Haisley, led a raid on a breeder in Gibson County recently and seized 97 dogs. Not because the breeder had done anything wrong but because Gibson County is represented by the Chairman of the House Ag committee. What better way for HSUS to try to make a point about a commercial breeder law and apply pressure to the chairman of the committee that will take up the bill than bringing as much media and civic attention as possible to dog breeding in his district? You really have to admire their devious methods. They know every trick.

HSUS and ARC can pick off as many small breeders in the state as they like but the truth is that Tennessee simply doesn't have many large breeders breeding commercially. Any effort to create another commercial breeder law is likely to encounter the same problems as the last one – it will be hard to make it pay for itself. A commercial breeder law in Tennessee would have to have such a low threshold number to be self-sustaining that it would likely make every show and hobby breeder in the state howl, not to mention all the hunters. Tennessee is a deeply red Republican state and it takes fiscal responsibility seriously. A commercial breeder law that loses money for the state, like the last one, is probably not going to pass.

At the national level, whether you are a Republican or a Democrat, Senator Mitch McConnell's new position as Senate Majority Leader in 2015 will likely be beneficial for dog breeders, or at least not harmful. McConnell has been opposed to horse slaughter – something which earned him positive marks from HSUS – but otherwise, he has been almost entirely opposed to bills backed by HSUS. Coming from Kentucky, his position on horse slaughter is probably easy to understand. McConnell did not support PUPS legislation. He has sponsored a bill with Senators Rand Paul and Lamar Alexander on Tennessee Walking Horses which differs from the bill supported by HSUS and gives the Walking Horse industry more control over itself instead of putting more control into the hands of the USDA. I think it's safe to say that Sen. McConnell is not very AR-friendly. No wonder Wayne sounded so gloomy on his blog.

Of course, the voting record is only a small part of what you get with McConnell in his new position and the change in the party in power in the Senate. We still have to contend with government agencies and regulations as they affect dog breeders. I don't know if we will ever be able to throttle back the power that government agencies have over our lives now or the mass of regulations that govern us daily. I don't think the founders of this country ever envisioned a permanent bureaucratic ruling class, but that's what we have – four branches of government: the legislative, the executive, the judiciary, and the bureaucracy to run all of it.

Monday, October 13, 2014

She Said What?

This article originally appeared in Dog News and is published here by permission of the author.

She Said What?

Carlotta Cooper



There is a popular belief among the uneducated that electronic dog collars, or e-collars (sometimes called “shock” collars) are cruel and inhumane. Some people seem to think that if an owner has trouble training a dog he or she is inclined to run out and purchase an electronic collar so he can zap the heck out of his dog when he misbehaves. Not only is this view insulting to dog owners, but it seriously misunderstands how e-collars are used.

Any tool – and that is what an e-collar is – can be misused. A hammer is intended to strike a nail but you could accidentally hit your thumb with it. Used properly, e-collars are very good training aids for many kinds of dog training. They are not simply used for obedience training. They are used for advanced field training, for agility and other sports. E-collars are also used for training dogs at a distance when you are not close enough to give a correction. And they are used for behavior modification for dogs with behavior problems. This can be especially important when no amount of positive reinforcement will work.

You should also know that e-collars aren't used to teach dogs basic commands. They are best used to reinforce commands that a dog already knows.

E-collars today are extremely advanced. They can literally have a couple of dozen settings and the handler can choose a very precise degree of stimulation for the dog. “Stimulation” is the correct term because the handler can choose from a tone, a vibration, or a slight shock to reinforce a command. Sophisticated collars can have many other features.

It's also important to remember that people who use invisible fencing for their dogs are using the same principle. The dog wears a collar that picks up a signal. If the dog gets too close to the fence and ignores the warning tone, the dog will receive a slight shock. Most dogs quickly learn the boundaries and stay inside, but the fence works because of the e-collar approach.

I'm explaining this information about e-collars and invisible fences because a representative for the AKC – Gina DiNardo – appeared on Fox and Friends a few days ago and inexplicably gave the impression that the AKC opposes them.

Here is the AKC's policy on e-collars, as stated in the Board Policy Manual online:

http://www.akc.org/rules/policymanual.cfm?page=5

Training Collars (July 2001 Board meeting)
Special training devices that are used to control and train dogs, including but not limited to, collars with prongs, electronic collars used with transmitters, muzzles and head collars may not be used on dogs at AKC events, except as allowed in the AKC Rules, Regulations, and policies.

The American Kennel Club recognizes that special training collars may be an effective and useful management device, when properly used, for controlling dogs that might be extremely active, difficult to control on a neck collar, or dog aggressive. These collars are also recognized as possibly useful for gaining control at the start of basic obedience training, essential education that dogs deserve and need.

There is a point at which owners should have sufficient control of their dogs to manage them on regular neck collars, without the use of special training collars. This is the point at which dogs are acceptable on the grounds of AKC competitive events and will have the opportunity to participate in those events.


That policy seems to be reasonable and easy to understand. It's been in place for some 13 years. It appears that Gina DiNardo's statements were out of line, perhaps prompted by a new study out of the UK that suggests e-collars might distress dogs.
As far as anyone knows, there has not been any kind of change in AKC's policy regarding the use of training collars. AKC's Social Media person, Chris Walker, said that the comments were intended for an audience of pet owners. Unfortunately, when a spokesperson for the AKC goes on national television and disparages a training tool, people do not make that distinction. I think we can expect to see a bumper crop of animal rights legislation trying to ban e-collars at the state level soon – all of it quoting Gina DiNardo and claiming that the AKC opposes e-collars.

I think we all understand that AKC would like to be popular with pet owners. It's nice to sound politically correct. But there are many subtle nuances involved with dogs, dog ownership, training, and breeding. AKC has a core constitutency that expects AKC to know and protect their interests in dogs instead of brushing them aside to gain some media approval.

The Fairness To Pet Owners Act

This article originally appeared in Dog News and is published here by permission of the author.

The Fairness To Pet Owners Act

Carlotta Cooper



Let me start by stating that, according to Govtrack.us, an online legislative tracking tool maintained by the government-transparency company Civic Impulse, LLC, this bill has zero percent chance of passage this year, so it's not something that either veterinarians or pet owners need to stress about at this time. However, it was originally introduced in 2011, and again this year. If it doesn't pass this year, it will likely be introduced again at some point in the future. This means that you should know about it.

The Fairness to Pet Owners Act in the U.S. House (HR 4023) was introduced by Rep. Jim Matheson, (D-Utah). The bill would require veterinarians to provide clients with written prescriptions for pet medications regardless of whether such a prescription is requested by the client. It would also prohibit veterinarians from charging a prescription-writing fee or asking clients to sign a liability waiver related to writing the prescription. Senator Charles Schumer (D-NY) and Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn) have introduced a companion bill in the Senate.

House version of the bill here: http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/z?c113:H.R.4023

Even though the bill may not pass at this time, Rep. Matheson thinks the Fairness to Pet Owners Act may raise public awareness about their veterinary-drug purchasing options.

“I think it’s important to have the issue out there and have people talk about it,” Matheson told the VIN News Service in an interview. (“Lawmaker behind proposed Fairness to Pet Owners Act aims to inform consumers,” March 14, 2014, Edie Lau.) “Even if the legislation were never to pass, I think consumers should be aware that they should at least ask for a prescription.”

Matheson originally introduced the legislation in 2011. That bill died in the House Energy and Commerce Committee’s Health Subcommittee when the legislative session ended in early 2013. Matheson reintroduced the legislation early this year. The bill is now with the Energy and Commerce Committee.

According to press releases from the American Veterinary Medical Association and an article in DVM360 Magazine (“Fairness to Pet Owners Act now brewing in U.S. Senate,” July 23, 2014, by Julie Scheidegger), the AVMA staunchly opposes the bills. The AVMA calls the act “burdensome and unnecessary.”

As dog owners, most of us have had experiences buying prescription medications from veterinarians. Opinions among owners and breeders seem to be sharply divided in the fancy over these bills.

Here are some of the pros and cons:

Pros
  • Veterinarians often mark up prescriptions 100 percent or more to help pay for some of their other services. Getting a prescription from your vet would allow you to buy the same medications cheaper elsewhere.

  • Some people are reluctant to ask for a prescription. If veterinarians are required to provide a prescription, you won't have to ask.

  • Some pet owners may not know that they can ask for a prescription or buy medication for their pets somewhere else. Automatically giving every client a prescription makes sure they know.

  • Vets would be prohibited from charging a fee for writing a prescription.

  • There may be less chance of a vet prescribing medication your dog doesn't really need.

The act would also:

  • Prevent vets from specifying from where clients must buy medications as a condition for receiving a prescription; and

  • Prevent vets from requiring clients to sign a waiver relieving the doctor of liability in the case of any problems with a prescription filled elsewhere


Cons
  • The AVMA says that clients are already free to purchase prescriptions from other sources. Some states already require vets to provide a prescription (two states). And vets are ethically obligated to write a prescription if you ask for one.

  • The AVMA says they have no data to show that this law would lower the overall cost of pet care.

  • According to the AVMA, there would be an “administrative cost” if vets had to automatically provide prescriptions to their clients.

  • According to the AVMA, it would be a burden on vets if they had to write a prescription every time they prescribed medicine for a client's pet.

  • Pharmacists are not well-versed in requirements for animal dosing.


Ashley Morgan, DVM, Governmental Relations Division assistant director for the American Veterinary Medical Association, says the bill is being presented “under the guise of saving consumers money on their pets’ medications.” Honestly, it's hard to see how pet owners would not save money if they bought their pets' medication outside the vet clinic. There are countless stories of pet owners who are able to save lots of money by having prescriptions filled at Wal-Mart or their local pharmacy. Just ask around and you can find owners who have paid a vet $30 for a tube of eye cream that is $4 at Costco. Or find someone whose vet made them pay to get a prescription – even if they were ordering something online and the prescription only had to be faxed. Lots of people use heartworm preventive that isn't carried by their vet but the vet will still charge for a prescription or refuse to write the script. In short, some veterinarians are not nearly as cooperative as the AVMA suggests and pet owners could save money.

Dr. Morgan admits that there may be instances of veterinarians declining to provide prescriptions, but not enough to justify a law.

“Our understanding and belief is that it’s not a pervasive problem,” Morgan said. “The AVMA's Principles of Veterinary Medical Ethics states that a veterinarian should honor a client's request. If there are veterinarians not providing prescriptions, hopefully they have a medical or ethical reason for doing it and are communicating that to the client.”

As far as it being a burden for veterinarians to have to write prescriptions or requiring an “administrative cost,” how are M.D.s able to write prescriptions for people without suffering these problems? When you go to see your doctor you don't have to buy your prescriptions from him or her. You expect to get a prescription so you can go out and have it filled. You are free to shop around for the best price if you like. Perhaps at one time you bought your medicine from your doctor when he made housecalls and carried a doctor's bag to your house but those days are gone. It seems silly for pet owners to have to go on purchasing over-priced prescriptions from veterinarians while the cost of pet care rises dramatically every year. Pet owners have access to cutting edge treatments that are similar to the same treatment given to humans these days – and we pay similar costs for it. Shouldn't we be able to save money where we can on the cost of prescriptions?

Rep. Matheson also sees the similarity between physicians and vets. “In the case of human doctors, they can’t dispense medication,” he said. “We’ve made a decision that that is a conflict of interest. I’m not raising that issue right now (for veterinary medicine), but I could.”

Will there be a backlash from veterinarians? Possibly. If this bill passes at some time in the future, we could see other pet care costs rise as vets try to make up the loss of income from prescriptions. Ethical? Not really. But it could happen. Many vets already charge for an “office visit.” What's that about? What does that cover? I suppose it allows you and your dog to sit in the lobby for a few minutes.

The one con for the bill that seems like a realistic concern is that pharmacists are not well-versed in dosing for animals. If you take your vet's prescription to your local pharmacy to be filled, your pharmacist might not know about possible substitutions or how they would affect a dog. He or she might not know if it's okay to sell you a different size pill and tell you to cut it in half, and so on. Will your vet be cooperative if the pharmacist has to call to get information?

Other people believe that this bill is a bad idea because they think that the marketplace should sort things out. More laws, even to protect pet owners, would only interfere with the rights of veterinarians to practice and charge what they want.

I was curious about who was supporting this bill and eventually found a group called APAW – Advocacy for Pets and Affordable Wellness. APAW describes itself as “a national coalition of pet owners and advocates dedicated to promoting the health and well-being of America’s pets and empowering pet owners everywhere to demand affordable, quality health care and medicine for their animals.”
On its website, which focuses on the proposed legislation, APAW has a page titled “Where to buy meds” that displays the logos of 45 retail supermarkets and pharmacies. The stores are, or are owned by, Wal-Mart, Costco, K-Mart, Target, Albertson’s, Kroger, Bashas’ and Brookshire Brothers. Also in the listing is one online pharmacy, PetCare Rx. Founded by a petsitter and dogwalker in Huntington Beach, CA, the coalition is made up of politicians, veterinarians, retailers, product companies and shelter groups.

Obviously, these retailers have something to gain by supporting the legislation, but it's good to know who is backing the bill. According to APAW, on average, pet owners can save up to 80 percent on their pets' medications by buying from non-vet sources.

Rep. Matheson also co-sponsored the Fairness to Contact Lens Consumers Act of 2003. This act, which passed, requires eye doctors to provide patients with prescriptions that allows them to buy their lenses somewhere else. There are a lot of similarities between this law and the Fairness to Pet Owners Act.

I don't usually like more laws and regulations but this time I think pet owners are over a barrel when it comes to prescriptions. If you need medication for your dog, you don't have options. You have to use a vet. After much thought and consideration of the pros and cons, I think the Fairness to Pet Owners Act is a good idea for pet owners. I think that vets should provide us with a prescription so we can buy medication for our pets anywhere we like. While veterinarians have a near monopoly on selling pet medication, the prices remain high. Giving pet owners more information and options about where they can purchase medication for their pets should help lower costs.

Rep. Matheson is not running for re-election and it is doubtful that this bill will pass during what remains of this Congressional session. However, we can expect to see the Fairness to Pet Owners Act again in the future so remember the pros and cons. As costs for pet care rise, this bill to save pet owners money on prescriptions will probably look better and better.

Sentience Is Not Enough

This article originally appeared in Dog News and is published here by permission of the author.

Sentience Is Not Enough

Carlotta Cooper



Animal rights activists have become fond of pointing out that dogs and other animals are “sentient beings,” as though this is a new discovery. In actuality, philosophers and scientists have been discussing the sentience of animals since at least the 18th century. Researchers today seem to amuse themselves by conducting experiments to prove that animals are sentient, but this is not news to most people, especially those of us who have dogs.

Representative Jim Moran (D-Virginia), long a thorn in the side when it comes to animal legislation because of his joined-at-the-hip status with HSUS, recently regaled readers of the political web site TheHill with his thoughts on animals as property and their status as sentient beings.

"I recoil at the mindset, still espoused by some in Congress, that animals are mere property rather than sentient beings. It is that perverse worldview that led to mass exterminations of whole species throughout history,” Moran wrote.

Fortunately Moran, who has received 100 percent ratings from HSUS and been named Humane Legislator of the Year by the Humane Society of the United States and the Humane Society Legislative Fund, is retiring from Congress. However, there are plenty of other members of Congress with this same mindset who shill for HSUS.

Apparently people don't understand what the word “sentient” means. Perhaps the confusion for animal rights people – and that would seem to include Rep. Moran – comes from their own philosophers. Sentience is simply being able to feel or sense; having consciousness. There are some who would argue that trees and plants have sentience. Afterall, there are studies that show plants respond better when you play music for them or talk to them. Vegans could be committing murder when they eat a plate of kale.

When it comes to animals, animal rights activists usually cite the 18th century philosopher Jeremy Bentham as an early founder of animal rights thought. He put forward the idea that if you can feel, then you can suffer; and the ability to suffer conveys certain rights. Even to animals. In Introduction to the Principles of Morals and Legislation Bentham wrote:

What else is it that should trace the insuperable line? Is it the faculty of reason, or, perhaps, the faculty of discourse? But a full-grown horse or dog is beyond comparison a more rational, as well as a more conversable animal, than an infant of a day, or a week, or even a month, old. But suppose the case were otherwise, what would it avail? The question is not Can they reason? nor, Can they talk? but, Can they suffer?

Animal rights activists argue that sentient beings of all kinds can experience feelings of pleasure and pain. Most of us would probably agree with this belief but ARs take it farther and would give animals rights because they can feel.

In the 20th century animal rights philosophers have taken this concept even farther. They have rejected some human rights – among them property rights – in favor of animal rights, calling efforts to keep human rights more important than animal rights “speciesism.” Peter Singer, one of the modern founders of the animal rights movement, wrote the following in his book Animal Liberation:

Assume that, as sometimes happens, an infant has been born with massive and irreparable brain damage. The damage is so severe that the infant can never be any more than a "human vegetable," unable to talk, recognize people, act independently of others, or develop a sense of self-awareness. The parents of the infant, realizing that they cannot hope for any improvement in their child's condition and being in any case unwilling to spend, or ask the state to spend, the thousands of dollars that would be needed annually for proper care of the infant, ask the doctor to kill the infant painlessly.
Legally, the doctor should not [kill the infant], and in this respect the law reflects the sanctity of life view. Yet people who would say this about the infant do not object to the killing of nonhuman animals. How can they justify their different judgments? Adult chimpanzees, dogs, pigs, and members of many other species far surpass the brain-damaged infant in their ability to relate to others, act independently, be self-aware, and any other capacity that could reasonably be said to give value to life. The only thing that distinguishes the infant from the animal, in the eyes of those who claim it has a "right to life," is that it is, biologically, a member of the species Homo sapiens...But to use this difference as the basis for granting a right to life to the infant and not to the other animals is, of course, pure speciesism. It is exactly the kind of arbitrary difference that the most crude and overt kind of racist uses in attempting to justify racial discrimination.


Singer takes Bentham's argument farther. Is an infant's life, even one with brain damage, more important than the life of an animal? Is it discrimination to value the life of a human more than that of an animal? These are the arguments Singer raises, with the obvious belief that an animal life is just as important as a human life.

Gary Francione, another leading animal rights philosopher, has a somewhat different view than Singer. He is an abolitionist."All sentient beings, humans or nonhuman, have one right: the basic right not to be treated as the property of others." (From his blog.) For Francione and some other animal rights philosophers, groups such as HSUS are not appreciated because they work incrementally, through legislation, instead of calling for the out and out abolition of pets and animal agriculture. These groups are too slow for some AR philosophers who would like to see an end to animal “enslavement” right away.

There is no reason why sentient beings can't be property. We're talking about dogs, cats, horses, farm animals, and all of the other animals that populate our domesticated world. We're not discussing human beings as slaves, even though ARs like to use the terminology of slavery. Sentience – the ability to sense and feel – doesn't convey some quasi-mystical status that gives animals human rights. Sure they think and feel. I don't think many people are surprised by that news. But they can't be held morally responsible for their actions. They don't know right from wrong as humans do.

I think most of us who have animals support animal welfare rather than animal rights. This is the belief that we are responsible for taking good care of our animals and preventing them from experiencing any unnecessary pain or suffering. We are stewards of the animals in our care and it's up to us to look after each generation so we can pass it along to the people who follow us. That doesn't mean surrendering our human rights or our property rights. It doesn't mean giving animals rights either.

Besides, people don't have to own animals as property to exterminate whole species. Native Americans didn't own the horses that were in the Americas before the continent was colonized by Europeans but they hunted them to extinction. According to biological diversity experts, we are losing dozens of species (including amphibians, birds, fish, insects and other creatures) per day simply because of changes to the environment.

So, Rep. Moran's discussion of the sentience of animals seems a little behind the times. Of course animals are sentient. Of course they feel and sense things. That's not the point. Your dog still can't tell right from wrong beyond knowing he's not supposed to poop in the house – which you have taught him. Your dog doesn't have the moral sense required to make or obey laws in a human society. Your dog needs you to make these decisions for him and take care of him as a domesticated animal. That's why we don't need animal rights. That's why sentience is not enough.

Why the C-BARQ Pet Store Study is Garbage

Why the C-BARQ Pet Store Study is Garbage

Carlotta Cooper



If you are at all familiar with research then you know that there are good studies and bad studies. It's not unusual for the researchers designing the study to have a bias or, in some cases, even set out to prove their own hypothesis, regardless of the facts. Such is the case with a study that has received lots of attention since it came out in 2013 – “Differences in behavioral characteristics between dogs obtained as puppies from pet stores and those obtained from noncommercial breeders,” by Frank McMillan, DVM, Dipl ACVIM, James Serpell, PhD, Deborah L Duffy, PhD, Elmabrok Masoud, PhD, and Ian R. Dohoo, DVM, PhD, published in the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association.

Popular headlines after the release of the study proclaimed, Penn Vet study finds pet store puppies come with increased risk; and Pet store dogs have more psychological problems than dogs from breeders. But the truth is, we still don't know if that's true or not. That's because the research for the study was ridiculously biased.

Since most of us, as hobby breeders, presume that well-socialized puppies raised in the home get a better start in life, it's easy to believe that puppies that come from “noncommercial” breeders are better off from a psychological viewpoint than puppies that come from pet stores. Many of these pet store puppies probably come from commercial – professional – breeders. Hobby breeders believe that our puppies are bred with more care; that the parents are more carefully chosen based on health, genetics, and conformation; and we believe that our puppies are better socialized than any puppies that can come from a commercial breeder. We also believe that we are careful when we place our puppies in new homes. These things may be true in many cases. That's not in dispute in this research.

What should be disputed is the research itself which was slanted from the start toward vilifying puppies that come from pet stores and their commercial breeders.

The study looked at 413 dogs obtained from pet stores and contrasted them to 5657 dogs obtained from breeders. The purpose was to compare purebred dogs from different sources – obtained as puppies – at approximately the same age.

The behavioral measurements for the study were obtained by using an online version of the Canine Behavioral Assessment and Research Questionnaire (C-BARQ). This questionnaire had 100 questions and was developed by James Serpell, one of the researchers on the team. It asked questions based on the owner's observations of their dog's typical responses to a variety of everyday situations. Behavior assessed included trainability, excitability, aspects of sociability, fearfulness, and expressions of aggression.

The researchers concluded that the data showed that dogs purchased from pet stores were not as psychologically sound as dogs from breeders; they showed less desirable behaviors in most categories; and did not achieve better scores than breeder dogs in any category.

The most troubling results were reported in relation to aggressive behavior. Owners of sexually intact pet store dogs were three times more likely to report that their dogs had acted aggressively toward them than similar dogs from breeders. The data showed that pet store dogs were almost twice as likely to show aggression toward strange dogs. The data even showed that pet store dogs were more likely to have problems with aggression directed toward strangers and toward other dogs in the home. And the study went on and on describing behavior problems in pet store dogs. The researchers were blunt in their assessment: "[U]ntil the causes of the unfavorable differences detected in this group of dogs can be specifically identified and remedied, we cannot recommend that puppies be obtained from pet stores."

Right now you're probably nodding your head and thinking, “I knew it. It's those pet store dogs giving all of us a bad name. Something should be done about them. They're not socialized properly. Let's get rid of them.” Well, hold on. As I said, the problem here is the way this study was conducted – not the dogs.

How can I say that? Because I took the survey for this study myself. Once upon a time I saw an Irish Setter puppy in a pet store, felt sorry for her, and bought her. Believe me when I say there was never a dog with better mental health than Molly the Irish Setter. For that matter, there has probably never been a dog with better physical health. She was my dog well into her teen years with never a health problem of any kind. She had no particular behavior problems unless you consider Irish Setter energy and enthusiasm to be behavior problems (some people do). She was one of the smartest dogs I have ever owned.

So, I felt well-qualified to take the C-BARQ survey for people who had owned pet store dogs. That is why I can say, categorically and under oath, that it was hopelessly slanted toward forcing owners to say that their pet store dogs were sickly and had outrageous behavior problems. Has your dog ever growled at another dog in the house over the best place to sleep? Well then, your dog obviously has problems with aggression. This is not very important if your dog comes from a noncommercial breeder – dogs will be dogs -- but if your dog comes from a pet store, time to call a town meeting! Shut down the pet store!

As a hobby breeder myself, I believe that we breed and raise the best puppies anyone could wish for. But I also like to see honest research and this piece of – research – doesn't cut it. HSUS is currently using this study in an effort to try to eliminate pet stores in many cities. Whether you like pet stores or not, it's important for all dog breeders to realize that when cities and counties shut them down or pass ordinances requiring pet stores to sell only shelter pets, it puts hobby dog breeders at risk. To the general public everyone who breeds a dog is pretty much the same. Your city commission has a hard time distinguishing between a commercial breeder and what you, as a hobby breeder, do. If they get rid of pet stores, the next item on their agenda is getting rid of all breeders. That includes you. Try to stay informed about what is happening in your area. Fight efforts to close pet stores.

By the way, if you're really interested in comparing pet store puppies to puppies from other sources, you can check out this much more comprehensive 1994 study:

Scarlett, Janet M., DVM, PhD; John E. Saidla, DVM; Roy V.H. Pollock, DVM, PhD, “Source of acquisition as a risk factor for disease and death in pups,” Journal of American Veterinary Medical Association, 204, No. 12 (1994), 1906-1913.

That study indicates that puppies acquired from pet stores are as healthy as those from any other source. It doesn't suggest any kind of mental or psychological problems for puppies from commercial breeders either. The study determined that the prevalence of serious disease, behavior problems, and congenital problems did not differ significantly regardless of where a puppy comes from. Data were obtained and analyzed for 2,144 pups examined at 65 veterinary hospitals in the northeastern United States to determine whether there were significant differences in the frequency of disease and death among pups acquired from private owners, Societies for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals/pounds, breeders, or pet stores. All health problems reported by owners and veterinarians in the first 2 weeks of ownership were tabulated. The prevalence of serious disease among pups (resulting in death, euthanasia, return, or extensive treatment) was < 4% for all sources and did not differ significantly between pet stores and other sources. Pups from pet stores had more respiratory tract disease, but fewer fleas and parasites of the intestinal tract. Data supplied by the veterinarians indicated that the risk of intestinal tract diseases was significantly (P < or = 0.01) higher among pups from pet stores and Societies for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals/pounds, compared with those from private owners. The prevalence of reported behavioral and congenital problems did not differ among the 4 sources.

The nice thing about this study is that it was not based on an Internet survey and the puppies were examined by veterinary professionals.

The moral of this story is that you should not believe every new study that comes out today, especially if it is being promoted by animal rights groups. Studies are frequently biased, especially if they are about animals. Even if you agree with the results of a study, it's a good idea to ask some questions because the study could very easily be flawed.