Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Good Ol' Boys? Not So Fast

I apologize for being absent for so long. It's been a busy legislative session in Tennessee. Every year there are always lots of bills relating to animals introduced and it's important to analyze them to see how they impact pet owners, breeders, animal businesses such as groomers, boarding kennels, and others, and generally figure out if a bill is needed, stupid, redundant, or downright harmful. Many bills are introduced by legislators who have good intentions – often because it is requested by a constituent who sees a real need in their district. However, too often the bill only looks at one side of an issue or the problem is so particular that it's already covered under existing law or it would be foolish to make a state law to cover it.

There was an article posted online yesterday that caught my attention: Series of pet protection bills die in TN legislature  According to this article, our House Ag committee is a black hole where good animal protection bills go to die.

From the article:

One proposal would have placed animal cruelty convicts on a registry for two years. One member of the House agriculture committee said it would endanger bird dog trainers, and the bill died.

Another proposal would have continued inspections at puppy mills. And a third would have required Tennesseans who tie up their dogs outside to give them at least 10 feet. Those bills aren't moving forward.

Supposedly, bills die as the result of some kind of “good ol' boy network.” Hogwash. I remember when I was new to legislation and the actions of legislators and committees seemed cruel and mysterious. I also thought things happened because of some good ol' boy network that was lined up against me and my friends. Well, maybe there is some of that at work in legislatures. People are only human and friendships probably play a role. But I can also say that what happens in the legislature happens because of hard work, study, and lots of communication.

Here's what happened to the bills above, for example. The animal abuser registry bill has been introduced in Tennessee repeatedly, and defeated repeatedly, for several years. It is pushed by the Animal Legal Defense Fund (ALDF), one of the most left-wing animal rights groups in the country. They seek to give animals legal status as persons and animal abuse registries – which have never been legalized by any state – are one of their pet projects, so to speak. While this particular bill may have been instigated by a local constituent group, it serves the same purpose. While many people think that animal abuse is a gateway crime to becoming a serial killer and other serious crimes, there is contradictory evidence. When legislators were given this information, they killed the bill.

The “puppy mill” or commercial breeder law in Tennessee was set to expire in June of this year. A bill was introduced that would have removed the sunset provision and made the law permanent. However, the commercial breeder law, established in 2009, was nearly $1 million over budget. The law was based on figures from HSUS that stated Tennessee would sign up 500 breeders by 2014. The state signed up 20 breeders. The program was a complete failure and it would have been incalculably irresponsible for legislators to allow the program to continue when it was based on inaccurate fiscal data from HSUS and losing $300,000 per year.

The tethering bill that would have required people to keep dogs on tethers at least 10 feet long was, frankly, a disaster of a bill. First, tethering is already covered in Tennessee's cruelty statutes. Second, this bill was opposed by dog trainers, hunters, and groomers. Why? Because the way the bill was written, it would have affected all of these people who use short tie-outs for dogs in the normal course of their training and work. A dog groomer keeping a dog in place with a grooming noose on a table could have been included in this bill – that's how slippery the language was. A dog trainer keeping a dog in place on a short leash could have been included. (Ever worked with a clicker trainer who tries to teach a dog the “quiet” command?) Hunters keeping dogs on a “chain gang” would have become criminals. That's why this bill was defeated. Not because of a “good ol' boy” network or because the House Ag committee is a black hole for legislation. It's because the House Ag committee actually has some common sense when it comes to dogs.

People may call these “animal protection” bills and bemoan the fact that they didn't pass but there were darn good reasons why all of these bills deserved to die. Just because something sounds good or makes you feel all warm and fuzzy doesn't mean it's really good for animals or animal owners.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

I Vote For My Dogs

I Vote For My Dogs
Carlotta Cooper

When you share your opinions with people as much as I do, you tend to get a lot of feedback from readers. Some of it is quite nice and I'm grateful. Those responses usually come from people who read DOG NEWS. I get messages that are much more hateful from animal rights people when I post online about animal rights issues or reply to a news article about dog breeding or animal legislation. If I listened to some of these people I would have various broken bones and/or be dead by now. One person told me that I was “pretending to be a humane person” because the avatar photo with my online reply was a picture of my dog. It seems that only animal rights people can love their dogs.

One kind of message always leaves me a little confused. If I state an opinion disliking AR-inspired regulation for dog breeders, I often get approving messages from people who assume that I'm a dyed-in-the-wool conservative or Tea Party person. They're ready to take me to the next meeting and tell me all about the horrors of the Democratic party.

I should say right here that I don't really have a party anymore. I'm a dog person. I vote for my dogs. Property rights, regulation, finances – for me everything comes down to how things are going to affect me and my dogs. When someone runs for office, I want to know if HSUS owns them or not. Actually, if HSUS can buy a politician, someone else can probably buy him or her, too, but that's the issue that concerns me. I no longer care which party someone is in. I think there are good and bad people in both parties. One of the things I do in my state each election is help the Sportsmen's and Animal Owners' Voting Alliance send out and analyze questionnaires about animal issues for candidates running for office so we can make endorsements. They have volunteers in many states who work on this project and it's a good way to know where candidates stand on animal issues.

However, my best friend is a liberal Democrat who does just as much to fight bad dog legislation as I do. I know that it drives her crazy when people assume that you have to be a conservative Republican to oppose animal rights. The tone of many e-mail lists about dog legislation IS conservative or Republican-oriented and that's too bad in some ways. I think it makes Democrats and liberals feel under attack or responsible for some of the things that animal rights people do in the name of “helping” animals.

Why is animal rights linked to liberals or the Democratic party? Well, it's a social issue. At one time, in the 19th century, improving care for animals was linked to improving care for children in our society. The idea that people are brutish and it requires government intervention to make them behave better and live the way they “should” live is a liberal idea. Plus, we live in a time when increased government regulation is associated with the Democratic party. And, it's the Democratic party that includes a caucus for animal rights at their Convention. Animal rights is just one of a long list of ways the party wants to make the world better, even if people object.

Please hold your letters. I began life as a Democrat, from generations of Democrats. FDR was a saint in my parents' home. My great-grandfather was named after Thomas Jefferson. I love the ideals of the Democratic party. I get them. I really do. But what began as a rural party with an affinity for farmers is more of an urban party now. When you look at polling data in any election now, you usually find that Republicans and conservatives win in rural areas – where there are more likely to be farmers and other people deeply involved with animals. Democrats and liberals are more likely to win in the cities. So, while today's Democratic party still shares some of the ideals of yesteryear, the demographic has changed to a large extent.

As you might imagine, this is a problem for dog owners, whether they are Republicans or Democrats. While HSUS donates to both Republican and Democratic candidates, they are far more heavily invested in Democratic candidates. They have a much stronger base in cities and universities and among young people. Many animal rights people today are located in cities and when they speak about animal issues they are speaking from ignorance. If they have pets they have probably only had a spayed or neutered animal. They don't know anything about breeding or whelping. They don't know about most health issues. They don't think in terms of generations. And they are usually completely ignorant of normal farming practices, even mistaking some ordinary things for “cruelty.” It's not easy to convince a 20-year-old college kid in the city that they don't know everything there is to know about animals. Afterall, you've only spent your entire life breeding and raising dogs. They have read an article online. All of this makes them easy prey for a manipulative group like HSUS to brainwash them.

It's easy for HSUS and ALDF (the Animal Legal Defense Fund – an animal rights legal group) to recruit young kids on colleges in urban areas. They can appeal to a natural urge to help animals and portray breeders and farmers – older people who live out in the sticks – as the bad guys. For these organizations and their recruits, they can subtly promote animal rights as a war on an older generation; as an attack on people whose values they despise – people who defend their property and claim their animals are part of that property by law. Because of the urban/rural party split, for many people it's also an attack on conservatives and others who believe the government is engaging in overreach and too much regulation. “These breeders must be regulated! They are doing terrible things to animals! Without government regulation, they will _____.” Fill in the blank. It's whatever HSUS and their allies can come up with to scare Congress and the public.

All of this happens without reference to the people who are most knowledgeable about dogs, of course, because, according to this paradigm, they can't be trusted.

Obviously, this version of reality ignores the fact that HSUS raises millions of dollars annually by using sad photos of kittens and puppies in order to spend the money on lobbying, pensions, and other things of self-interest. It's called “conflict fundraising.” Create a problem so you can make money on it. HSUS is expert at it. You have to wonder how many young people might choose to go into animal husbandry because they love animals if they weren't being diverted by the conflict needlessly created by HSUS. We have already lost several generations to the AR movement when they might have been more productively involved in animal welfare instead of animal rights.

All of this is to say that whether you are a Democrat or a Republican, it doesn't matter. Our common enemy is still the animal rights movement and HSUS. I would just point out that you don't have to be a Republican or a conservative to hate the over-regulation of breeders. In fact, some Democrats and liberals can feel alienated by their more conservative friends on dog lists when these subjects come up. Bad legislation is just that – bad legislation. You don't have to belong to one party or another to be able to recognize it or hate it.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

A Question of Identity

This article was originally published in the October 25, 2013 issue of DOG NEWS. It is reprinted here by permission of the author.

A Question of Identity
Carlotta Cooper

Since September, when APHIS announced the final version of their regulation affecting dog breeders, there has been much discussion about what to do, who it affects, and what it will mean for breeders in the future. I don't think it's stretching things too much to say that this rule is a turning point for dog breeders. It calls upon us to ask ourselves who we are going to be. Are we going to remain traditional hobby breeders, generally breeding according to the ethical guidelines of breed parent clubs? Or, are we going to become regulated commercial breeders operating under the rules of the Animal Welfare Act? In short, it's a question of identity.

Bear with me while I relate a little history, please.

While most people are aware that the Irish came to the United States in great numbers, they usually think that this happened in the 1840s, as a result of the potato famine. In reality, the Irish, and Scotch-Irish from Northern Ireland, had been coming to America since the 17th century in large numbers. This was largely because of something called the Penal Laws in Ireland. These laws were passed by Britain, which ruled Ireland (it's a long story), with the explicit intention of stamping out resistance to British rule.

Under the Penal Laws Catholics, Presbyterians, and other dissenters from British rule were singled out and punished with the following acts (among others):

  • Exclusion of Catholics from most public offices (since 1607), Presbyterians were also barred from public office from 1707.
  • Ban on intermarriage with Protestants; repealed 1778
  • Catholics barred from holding firearms or serving in the armed forces (rescinded by Militia Act of 1793)
  • Bar from membership in either the Parliament of Ireland or the Parliament of England
  • Disenfranchising Act 1728, exclusion from voting until 1793;
  • Exclusion from the legal professions and the judiciary;
  • Education Act 1695 – ban on foreign education; repealed 1782.
  • Bar to Catholics and Protestant Dissenters entering Trinity College Dublin; repealed 1793.
  • Ban on Catholics inheriting Protestant land
  • Prohibition on Catholics owning a horse valued at over £5 (in order to keep horses suitable for military activity out of the majority's hands)
  • 'No person of the popish religion shall publicly or in private houses teach school, or instruct youth in learning within this realm' upon pain of twenty pounds fine and three months in prison for every such offence. Repealed in 1782. [5]
(Source: Wikipedia, “Penal Laws, Ireland”)

According to British statesman Edmund Burke, writing at the end of the 18th century, "The Penal Laws were a machine of wise and elaborate contrivance, as well fitted for the oppression, impoverishment and degradation of a people, and the debasement in them of human nature itself, as ever proceeded from the perverted ingenuity of man.”

Some of these laws were not repealed until Ireland separated from Britain following World War I. They undoubtedly played a role in stirring Irish anger and rebellion throughout the 18th and 19th centuries.

You can see from reading these laws that in many cases the purpose was to strip the Irish population of their identity. Beyond practical measures like depriving people of a good horse, the government was making sure that the Irish Catholic point of view was not represented in Parliament; that Irish Catholics were not well-educated; and they were making it as hard as possible to carry on with their religion and other ways of life. The only way for advancement was to become a Protestant and embrace the British rule of Ireland.

Looking back, we know that these efforts were unsuccessful. However, for approximately three centuries they brought pain and suffering to millions of Irish and caused many Irish to leave the country for America, Canada, and other places where they could be free.

Does the APHIS rule rise to the level of the Penal Laws? Well, perhaps not. But it certainly shares elements with them. I would also say that, taken as a whole, the laws that have been instigated by the animal rights movement to deprive breeders and pet owners of their rights are made with the same purpose as the Penal Laws. Animal rights laws are being made with the intention of making it as hard as possible to continue breeding dogs or other animals; and the new APHIS regulation falls into that category. These laws are also made with the intention of depriving us of our identity. The APHIS rule would change us from small home breeders to commercial breeders subject to the Animal Welfare Act laws. That means that you couldn't have a litter of puppies in your bedroom or kitchen or interact with your dogs in the same way you do now. It would break the close bond you have with your dogs.

While there are some possible exemptions under the APHIS rule, they are mostly found in the 88 pages of commentary that accompanies the actual rule which renders them somewhat “squishy.” They can be read as agency intent but, if push comes to shove when you are dealing with an APHIS inspector, the inspector can follow the letter of the rule. If you are claiming an exemption because you breed for “breeding purposes,” yet you sell some of your puppies as pets, you might find yourself being investigated by APHIS on a “case by case” basis.

Even if APHIS is lenient with these exemptions in the beginning, it seems likely that this honeymoon period won't last. How long before HSUS threatens to sue APHIS to force them to adhere to the actual rule and disregard the rosy commentary and the gauzy exemptions? We know that HSUS has its own team of lawyers and they are more than willing to sue government agencies at the drop of a hat. They will sue to make APHIS enforce the rule more strictly, if necessary. That would mean an end to most of the feel-good exemptions that APHIS has been peddling in order to soothe breeders and prevent an injunction prior to the rule going into effect on November 18. Everything that seems ambiguous now can and will be read as HSUS wishes it to be read after November 18, even if they have to take APHIS/USDA to court to make that happen. There is no reason to think that won't happen. That is the HSUS track record. When has HSUS ever been satisfied with a rule, regulation, or law? Even in the initial conference call announcing the new rule, HSUS and ASPCA officials stated their disappointment with some aspects of the new rule while praising APHIS for regulating breeders.

This new rule does strike at the identity of dog breeders. Will you become USDA licensed and kennel your dogs? Will you convert part of your home to an area that can house dogs under AWA rules? Will you have unannounced inspections of your home or property? Will you allow the USDA to turn you into a commercial breeder? What will happen to hobby dog breeders? Unlike the Irish, we can't take up our belongings (or our dogs) and head for another country.

Sure, if you have four or fewer bitches and/or you never ship a puppy, you probably have nothing to worry about. You can keep your head down and ignore everything going on around you. But if you care about your breed at all, you should care about what happens. How many people in your breed will be affected by the new rule? Every breeder who is affected means someone – and their dogs – could be stopped from breeding. That means a loss of your breeding options. It means a stud dog you can't use or a puppy you can't buy in the future. Most of our breeds already have small gene pools. A rule like this, which will make it harder for many people to breed, will harm our breeds. It affects every single one of us who loves intentionally-bred dogs.

I believe that we should choose to remain hobby breeders. Those who claim that this rule will not harm hobby breeders are mistaken or living in denial. There are options. You can write to your congressman. You can write to the House Agriculture Committee. You can contact AKC Government Relations. You will likely get back form letters in reply. But over 70,000 people signed the AKC's petition against the APHIS rule last year. Breeders oppose this rule. If a case can be made, we need AKC to step up and speak for us now to stop this rule. Otherwise, hobby breeders are going to cease to exist as we know them now.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

We Found The Money You Donated To HSUS

Want to see something interesting? Take a look at the report that was recently filed with the Tennessee Ethics Commission by lobbyists working on behalf of the Humane Society of the United States.









Lobbying Expenditure Report (ss-8011)

Contact Information

The Humane Society of the U.S.
2100 L Street, NW 
Washington
UNITED STATES
DC
20037
850-386-3435
850-386-4534
nkrzycki@humanesociety.org

Company Leadership Information

Wayne Pacelle
Gwen Crane
Laura Bevan
Regional Director

Nature of Company Business

agriculture
crime & criminal procedure
environment/public lands
law enforcement
parks & wildlife

nonprofit organization

Total Aggregate Lobbyist Compensation

$25,000 - $50,000

Lobbying-Related Expenses

$50,000 - $100,000

Aggregate Total of All In-State Events

None

Lobbyist Information

Name Address City State Zip Country In-House Date Added
Leighann McCollum 1011 Buckingham Circle Franklin TN 37064 USA In-House 08/07/2013
David McMahan 211 7th Ave North Nashville TN 37219 USA In-House 08/07/2013
Anna Richardson 211 7th Ave North Nashville TN 37219 USA In-House 08/07/2013
Caroline Straight 211 7th Ave North Nashville TN 37219 USA In-House 08/07/2013
Beth Winstead 211 7th Ave North Nashville TN 37219 USA In-House 08/07/2013
Back




That's how much money -- and how many lobbyists -- HSUS had working in the state during the six month period from January to June when our legislature was in session. Of course, HSUS will tell you that they only care about animals and they're not a political organization. They just spend hundreds of thousands of dollars in a state with a population of 6.5 million people -- quite small in terms of population -- because they like to spend money, right? Maybe the truth is that they like to control people and what they do with their animals. And they like to try to buy public opinion and sway lawmakers to spread an anti-agriculture agenda.


These figures are probably on the low side anyway. HSUS publicly boasted in the news when they were fighting Andy Holt's bill to require someone secretly videotaping animal abuse to share the video with law enforcement that they were spending over $100,000 on their media campaign in the state. They also took in a $25,000 contribution from Ellen Degeneres when Wayne Pacelle appeared on her show to talk about the the bill. The figures also don't include the hiring of "outreach director" Eric Swafford to lobby the Walking Horse community in the state during this same time. We wonder if these reported figures would bear much scrutiny from the Ethics Commission?

By the way, HSUS is listed as an "Employer of Lobbyists" in 40 other states besides Tennessee. That's a lot of lobbying for a group that claims it doesn't lobby.

We mustn't forget the ASPCA either. They use the same lobbyists in the state and they kicked in $25,000-35,000 for lobbying and lobbying expenses during this period.



Tennessee Ethics Commission

Lobbying Expenditure Report (ss-8011)

Contact Information

ASPCA
424 East 92nd Street 
New York
UNITED STATES
NY
10128
646-291-4559
212-860-3560
beverly.jones@aspca.org

Company Leadership Information

Matt Bershadker
Mark Abrahams
Nancy Perry
SVP, Government Relations

Nature of Company Business

charitable & nonprofit organizations

animal welfare

Total Aggregate Lobbyist Compensation

$10,000 - $25,000

Lobbying-Related Expenses

Less than $10,000

Aggregate Total of All In-State Events

None

Lobbyist Information


ASPCA does have a lobbyist who is active in Tennessee named Sherry Rout but she is not reported here which is odd since she apparently lives in Memphis.

Of course, ASPCA doesn't lobby either. It's all about the animals, right? So, just where do your donations go when you see those sad commercials on TV? Why, they go right here, to Tennessee when these charlatan organizations want to poke around in agricultural affairs. Did you really think they went to help puppies and kittens?

Friday, August 2, 2013

Knoxville WARNING: Knoxville to tighten limit on cats and dogs

This is just like the situation in Chattanooga. If you don't want these changes, you need to speak up and contact the Knoxville City Council NOW, before August 6, or they are going to set it at four animals. That is a *combination of four*. So, if you have two dogs and two cats, you are at the limit. As it reads here, you could have two dogs and two hedgehogs and you would be at the limit.

The Knoxville City Council and their contact information are listed following the article. Contact these members and tell them that you do not want these changes.


Knoxville to clarify limit on cats and dogs
9:22 AM, Aug 2, 2013 | 8 comments

Heidi Wigdahl


(WBIR-Knoxville) How many pets is too many? Knoxville already limits the number of cats and dogs allowed in a home and that rule may tighten ever further.

The city ordinance, at the moment, states that each person can have a combination of four cats and/or dogs.

The City of Knoxville Animal Control Board hopes to make the law more clear, and more strict, by limiting the number to four per household.

For some, that could mean fewer pets would be allowed in their home.

Megan Knoll visits Knoxville's downtown dog park every day with one of her four pets.

"We have a dog who's just over a year, and then two cats and a hedgehog, crazy," she said.

Knoll wants another dog, which would put her at the limit if city council approves the amendment.

"The original intent of the ordinance for the last 20 years had really been to limit a reasonable about of animals to any particular household," explained Jeff Ashin, CEO of Young Williams Animal Center and member of the City of Knoxville Animal Control Board.

Ashin said there was confusion with the ordinance because it focused on owners, instead of households. The ordinance also does not apply to animals under six months old.

Animal owners outside of the city in Knox County have different rules that depend on the amount of land they own.

If a home sits on less than an acre, they can have up to five cats and/or dogs; 1.5-2 acres, 11-20 cats and/or dogs; 5+ acres, 21 or more cats and/or dogs.

All animals must be vaccinated.

City Council will vote on the change on Aug. 6.

Ashin said the change does not apply to those who are fostering animals or have them on a temporary basis.





Council Members
Vice Mayor Nick Pavlis - First District
3815 Admiralty Lane
Knoxville, TN  37920
Home: 865-579-2055
npavlis@comcast.net

George C. Wallace - At Large Seat A
7208 Rotherwood Drive
Knoxville, TN 37919
865-414-7102
gwallace@cityofknoxville.org

Marshall Stair - At Large Seat B
707 Market Street, No. 5
Knoxville, TN 37902
865-771-9215
marshallstair@cityofknoxville.org

Finbarr Saunders - At Large Seat C
102 Herron Drive
Knoxville, TN 37919
865-604-2536
fsaunders@cityofknoxville.org
Duane Grieve - Second District
3640 Iskagna Drive
Knoxville, TN  37919
Home: 865-522-4393
dgrieve@cityofknoxville.org

Brenda Palmer - Third District
7816 Ellisville Lane
Knoxville, TN  37909
Home: 865-951-1546
bpalmer@cityofknoxville.org

Nick Della Volpe - Fourth District
5216 Crestwood Drive
Knoxville, TN  37914
Home: 865-525-2880
ndellavolpe@cityofknoxville.org

Mark Campen - Fifth District
P.O. Box 27093
Knoxville, TN 37917
865-414-5593
mcampen@cityofknoxville.org

Daniel T. Brown - Sixth District
2318 Dillon Street
Knoxville, TN  37915
Home: 865-637-7553
dbrown@cityofknoxville.org


Thursday, July 25, 2013

The New Business Model For Selling Dogs

The article below appeared in the July 12, 2013 issue of DOG NEWS. It is reprinted here by permission.

One reader wrote to me to make sure it was clear that the Idaho shelter referred to was not actually in Boise. It is simply in the Boise area. The last I checked, a couple of days ago, the re-worded ad mentioned here is still on Craigslist but it may have been removed by now.

Also, San Diego voted to put in place their ban on pet stores, though there seems to be some hope that this issue can be revisited in the future. Some people seem to be excited that there are some exemptions but I do not share their enthusiasm.

Add Reno, Nevada to the list of cities that is trying to ban pet stores while offering homeless dogs and cats for sale in pet stores instead.


The New Business Model For Selling Dogs

Carlotta Cooper



As purebred dog breeders most of us are familiar with the codes of ethics for our parent breed clubs or our kennel clubs. Those codes typically spell out how we should care for our dogs and state something to the effect that we are supposed to put the welfare of the dogs and the breed above personal gain. I believe most purebred dog breeders take these goals seriously. That doesn't mean that it's unethical to recoup your costs on a litter or that people who breed dogs full-time and do it well are doing anything wrong. There is no particular virtue in losing money on a hobby if you can do things better.



But hobby breeding and even breeding purebred dogs for profit are the old business models when it comes to pets. Thanks to some of our more creative animal shelters and local governments, there is now a new business model for selling dogs as pets.



Consider, for example, the shelter in Boise, Idaho, that wants to pay $25 per puppy to anyone who will sell them. As stated in their ad on Craigslist, the shelter intends to spay and neuter the puppies and then sell them at the shelter for “adoption.” The shelter thinks this will cut down on pet overpopulation. It's hard to see how. The shelter would be acting as a broker for puppies and encouraging irresponsible breeding to meet their demand for “rescue” dogs. After an outcry from breeders, the ad was removed though it has reappeared, more carefully worded.



Then there's the situation with the pet shop in the Freehold Raceway Mall in New Jersey. The lease of the pet shop was not extended – because they sold dogs. That didn't stop the Monmouth County SPCA from taking over the shop. They now use the space to – sell dogs. The dogs come from other shelters as well as from Puerto Rico. It also functions as a pet store and they sell leashes, beds, toys, pet clothing, and so on. They have a full line of pet products from popular brands. Just don't expect to find any registered dogs there.



Many people have seen this trend coming for several years as animal control and legislation have made it harder to breed purebred dogs while at the same time encouraging people to get their dogs from shelters. Shelters have literally become pet stores today where people are supposed to go to buy their dogs and accessories. A visit to PetCo or PetSmart can often give you the same insight as these companies are supporters of HSUS. They often welcome shelter dog adoption events in their stores and are not friendly to dog breeders.



Approximately 34 municipalities in the U.S. have banned pet stores in their precincts. While some dog breeders might erroneously think this is a good thing, it's only a small step from banning pet stores to banning purebred dogs and hobby breeding. Local governments don't distinguish between a commercial dog breeder and a hobby breeder. They can easily ban all breeding once they set their sights on the selling of pets.



The San Diego City Council is in the process of trying to ban pet stores in their city, leaving shelters free to operate as the only source for dogs in the city. Pet stores in California are regulated by state law and hobby breeders in the state are covered by the puppy lemon law, but shelters are not regulated. Anyone who completes the IRS paperwork can become a non-profit rescue group and there is no oversight, according to Kay A. Henderson, PhD, Legislative Liaison for the Del Sur Kennel Club. More than 10,000 puppies from Mexico come into California every year. These puppies have no paperwork and they may have no vaccinations. They can be poorly bred, malnourished, and unsocialized. They are a health risk. They're brought in to be sold to meet the demand for cute puppies, partly because current legislation has made it so difficult for American breeders to breed, especially in California. These imported puppies often end up in local shelters where purebred hobby breeders are blamed for them, with talk of “pet overpopulation.” Imagine that.



If the ban on pet sales in retail stores succeeds in San Diego, this will be the kind of dog that is available to people in SoCal, with few other options unless they look elsewhere for a pet. Every new law that is made reduces options for breeding and keeping dogs.



Finally, there's the case of LA Animal Services General Manager Brenda Barnette who says shelters need puppies to increase their revenue. Barnette wants to change the policy of LA shelters which currently requires late-term spaying for pregnant bitches. Instead, Barnette, a former breeder, has recommended that pregnant bitches be taken in by fosters and allowed to whelp their puppies. She wants the puppies to be fostered and raised until they are 8 weeks old when they can be spayed/neutered and then adopted out through the shelter or one of its pet shops. Oh, yeah. I forgot to mention that Barnette also collaborated on and supported an ordinance that prohibits any pet stores from selling puppies, kittens, dogs or cats from puppy mills or local breeders and mandates that ALL dogs and cats sold in any pet store MUST be animals taken from a Los Angeles City shelter.



Ms. Barnette makes clear in her report to the Department of Animal Services that keeping the puppies to sell would be a good way to raise revenue: “Fostering puppies until they are eight weeks old, and returning them to Animal Services to be adopted out, represents additional revenue opportunities through adoptions to the public or through pet shops.”



This amounts to a monopoly for the city on the sale of dogs. Commercially-bred and home-raised puppies are not allowed to be sold in pet stores. Yet the city is seeking its own ongoing source of puppies to keep these pet stores supplies with “merchandise.”



Barnette, the former CEO of the Seattle Humane Society, is, or was, an AKC Legislative Liaison. As you might imagine, her former existence as a dog breeder and Legislative Liaison caused some concern when she was being considered for the position of LA Animal Services General Manager. In response to those concerns, Barnette told the Los Angeles Times:



I'm a member of the Seattle Kennel Club,” she said, explaining the extent of her job as legislative liaison for the club. "Every now and then I get a press release from the AKC saying 'This is the legislation,' and I hit forward and send it to all the other members.... I have shown dogs, and you may see me at a show."



Either Barnette wasn't doing a very good job as Legislative Liaison or this raises some questions about what club LLs are doing and how effective they are.



So, what's wrong with allowing bitches to come to term and whelp their litters? I admit, I don't personally like the idea of late-term spays, even though many vets say they are perfectly safe for the bitch. But the point is, if an animal shelter is trying to reduce the number of dogs produced, it makes more sense to spay the bitch and place her in a good home instead of involving foster families, raising a litter, and then spaying/neutering the puppies – or waiting until they are older when they might or might not be altered. Especially when all of this effort is being done to make money for the shelter. Aren't shelters supposed to do what's best for the animals instead of using them to make money?



One thing is abundantly clear from all of these cases: shelters are actively seeking dogs, especially puppies, to meet the public demand. This should tell us something about “overpopulation.” What overpopulation? There are clearly plenty of people who want puppies and dogs, especially if you have what they are looking for. There are still too many unwanted dogs in some areas – too many big, black dogs; too many “pit bulls” or bully breeds people are afraid to adopt; and too many Chihuahuas now in California. But there are shelters all over the country actively seeking dogs to meet demand. And they are trying to suppress purebred dog breeders because they see us as their competition, whether the dogs are in a pet store or we sell online or simply through word of mouth.



There is a new business model and shelters are acquiring and selling dogs. These “non-profits” are turning into for-profit entities and they certainly are not always doing what's best for the animals. They aren't responsible to buyers in the same way that a pet store business is or a hobby breeder is. They offer no guarantees. They don't have to know anything about the puppy or dog's history or health clearances. Basically, shelters can act free of any regulation or oversight and wash their hands of a dog as soon as he's sold. They don't face any of the restrictions placed on breeders. And some of these shelters are running breeders out of town. Watch out for it.



Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Update: Proposed Chattanooga Animal Ordinance

The ordinance has been pulled from tonight's agenda and will be "edited, changed and hopefully improved" per information from one of the city council members. Thank you to everyone who contacted the city council! This was a draconian ordinance, drawn up by the animal control authority in the city, and I don't think the city council was really aware of how harmful it would be to breeders and owners.

We'll be keeping in touch with the city council as they go forward with their revisions. Many thanks to the city council members who have been receptive to hearing from us the last few days.