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« "Free Cats" saves lives (and makes money) | Main | Everyone Needs a Harvey »

September 23, 2010

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YesBiscuit!

Just a tiny point relative to the bigger picture but... The decision to breed a bitch on consecutive seasons is best made by the owner and his vet. Some repro specialists feel it is healthier for the bitch to breed her every season for as many litters as you plan to have and then spay. Also, what if your bitch who had a litter on her last season gets bred accidentally on her next heat cycle - is the owner held liable? Who is going to enforce this rule - the pregnancy palpation police? And for those already inclined to skirt the law by whatever means necessary, doncha think they would simply say "No that's Fluffy who's giving birth right now, not Buffy who had a litter earlier this year" even if it was in fact Buffy?

Brent

I'll confess that I don't know all of the health benefits one way or the other for the dogs (although, my guess is, neither do the people writing the law -- which is your point).

But yeah, the enforcement of this is pretty laughable to think of. I mean, if inspectors can't even make it to do inspections once a year in a lot of cases, how are they going to enforce the 6 months layoff between cycles? I think to enforce that, they'd practically have to be there every month to get an idea (and even then I think it would be nearly impossible). It just doesn't make any sense.

PetDocsOnCall09

Thanks for a (yet another) fantastic, well thought and well-written blog. I agree with both you and Yesbiscuit...there is no way that anyone can enforce a "resting" period between breedings. I would think the only possible way would be for someone to review all papers of the puppies born during a set period and look for the same dam. Does this bill provide for a way to pay that person to do this??

Thanks also for the mention of my thoughts too!! :-)

kmk

Good post, Brent.

The commercial industry in Missouri microchips everything for inventory control and identification/recordkeeping purposes (i.e., to preserve the integrity of the AKC stud book and other registries' stud books); therefore, it would be theoretically possible to prove which bitch had consecutive litters of puppies by tracing the microchips.

Now, does the bill provide a way to pay a person to do this? Is that a rhetorical question? Perhaps HSUS will pony up another half million dollars specifically for that purpose. Or not.

this also further disputes the "The puppy millers are filling the shelters" argument. If that were the case any microchipped shelter dog could be scanned and, if it were chipped, traced back to the "puppy mill" from which it came. Funny how that almost never happens.

This is a horrible ballot initiative written by people whose ideas are emotionally based rather than based on research from our best veterinary schools that tell us the best way to breed and raise dogs. My husband's favorite part is the "unfettered access to the outdoors", or however it reads. He calls it "The Hawk and Owl Cafeteria Plan". Anyone that thinks a Shi-Tzu is safe in an unattended outdoor kennel run has never seen a Great Horned Owl pull a chicken through a chicken wire fence.

I spoke to Michael Markarian with HSUS at one of the meetings here in Missouri and he told me "we have determined 50 dogs is an acceptable number". Really? What if a breeder had plenty of room and employees to take care of more dogs? his response was, "Oh, well if they're staffed like a shelter...". I stopped him dead in his tracks and told him I've been to commercial facilities and I've been to shelters, and the shelter situation in Missouri is, by and large, deplorable. Most cities and counties could only dream of having shelters similar to some of our commercial facilities, which are outstanding.

This ballot initiative is part of the "No Animal Use" agenda. It's too bad more rescues don't understand the HSUS is doing them no favors with Prop B.

Valerie

Don't you wonder why the MO Dept of Ag inspectors can possibly "inspect" these hellhole puppy mills and approve them to continue for business? Like an Amish mill in northern MO, with 400 dogs crammed in a filthy barn, no a/c so that it's 130 degrees in the summer? And that same MODA inspector can go to a licensed "rescue" or "shelter" and give them crap about how dog food is stored? How on EARTH can these inspectors experience the filth, the heat, the horrid conditions of the animals... and write up their inspection as "approved?"

Hasn't anyone ever wondered that money might just be exchanging hands? HELLO!!! There is simply no other way to explain it.

And no one in the MO rescue/shelter world DARE say a thing, or DARE question these inspectors or make a complaint, because the damn inspectors hold ALL the power! If someone dares to point a finger at an inspector for allowing a puppy mill to "pass" with dangerous, unsanitary conditions, then that rescue or shelter may just NOT pass their next inspection. It's almost an unspoken blackmail... many rescue and shelter volunteers have BEEN to puppy mills to pick up "breeder release" dogs and have seen some gut-wrenching, horrible conditions... in places that had JUST been fully "approved" by the lovely state of Missouri.

Will Prop B fix this problem? I don't know. But I personally am for ANYTHING that will run these puppy miller jerks OUT of business. And if the so-called "big, clean" commercial breeders (puppy millers!) get caught in the fray, then so be it. Let them make an honest living another way. You cannot tell me that someone with 100, 200, 300 or 400+ breeding dogs is breeding them "for the love of the breed." They are doing it for MONEY, plain and simple.

Someone who truly loves their breed will do all the health testing, genetic testing (etc) prior to each breeding and will never, EVER, sell their puppies to a broker or through pet stores! And those "reputable" breeders are probably going to lose money in the process, because they are not doing it "for money"... but for the love OF their breed. Those (few) breeders are certainly NOT doing it in the high-volume that the millers are! And a "responsible" breeder would certainly, ALWAYS, take one of their dogs back at any time, even years later, if the dog did not work out in the new home. Think your big-scale commercial operation will take the dog back if little baby Suzy gets allergic to Rover and the family has to get rid of him? Uh... NO! Is Petland going to take the 3 year old Great Dane back when the owners lose their home to foreclosure and have to move to an apartment? Uh... NO!

I'm not a breeder of any kind... just an experienced animal rescuer who HAS been to several puppy mills and who has had nightmares afterwards. The heartbreaking sights, smells and sounds of these hellholes is enough to break anyone's spirit. Just imagine the life of those poor breeding dogs... with the MO Dept of Ag just giving a nod and an "approved" inspection - to continue the suffering, year after year.

Disgusting.

Robert Garnett

Valerie is absolutely right! Whether you call it a commercial breeder or a puppy mill,dogs(or cats) are being used to make money plain and simple and we in the animal welfare community should never say its all right to have 5 breeding females let alone 50.Whether these dogs are feed once a day twice a day is irrelevant they should not be subjected to these sterile conditions. I wouldn't want my dogs treated that way and I certainly can't justify others being treated that way either.

Brent

Robert, I still don't quite understand how it's become so commonplace in the animal welfare world to think it's not "ok" to have 5 breeding animals or even one. There are a lot of legitimate reasons why people should be allowed to breed and why it is important for animals in general.

Valerie, all of what you note is conceivable and probably somewhat true -- but until the improvement is made on getting the inspectors to do their actual jobs I don't see how there will be any changes -- regardless of what happens with Prop B -- and that's sort of my point.

MichelleD

If 50 animals is what H$U$ deems an acceptable number for proper care then it should be applied to rescues and shelters as well - right?

There is nothing wrong with making money off humanely raising dogs/cats - that's just some made up argument with no rational or factual basis.

I'm in the AW community but you don't speak for me, Robert. What you are calling for is the eradication of companion animals for pet's sake!? Since when is breeding tantamount to cruelty?

kmk

First, I find it interesting that people get so wound up over breeding dogs "for money". Why is that wrong? Why is it okay for shelters and rescues to make money adopting (i.e., "selling" dogs) but it's not okay for breeders to make money? How do you know they aren't doing it for the love of the breed? How do you know they don't love their dogs? Have you asked them personally? There are plenty of breeders in Missouri that sell "out the door" or directly to the public and they most certainly would take a dog back - and they have taken dogs back. One breeder went to great lengths to get her dogs back from a pet store in Florida that was cited by USDA.

In fact they prefer to sell directly to the public because they make more of that evil money than if they have to go through a pet store or broker.

I doubt there are too many licensed commercial breeders breeding Great Danes. They breed Toy breeds for the same reason Willie Sutton robbed banks: "That's where the money is".

I hate cowards. If rescues and shelters are truly seeing abuse and they're afraid to speak out because they're afraid of losing their own licenses, then they deserve to suffer from nightmares and whatever else tortures them. "Evil thrives when good men do nothing". I, for one, am sick and tired of spineless, weak rescues and shelters that kowtow to municipal governments or any other government entity because they can't see the forest for the trees and they're "afraid". Grow a spine and do something about the problems you're allegedly seeing!

Rescues and shelters have killed a lot more dogs than commercial breeders due to being "afraid", due to inaction, and due to being money-hungry.

Municipalities routinely pass legislation that kills family pets but private rescues and shelters are too afraid to speak up because they are focused on saving each individual dog. It would be so easy for a private shelter to say "go ahead and pass a pit bull ban/mandatory spay-neuter law/etc. but we won't renew our contract with you and you can stack dogs in crates in the Mayor's office for all we care". But they don't do that because it's about the MONEY and they don't want to lose contracts. Gosh, there's that evil money again. Oh yes, and the silly argument that someone else will get the contract and they won't treat the dogs as well. Treat them worse than killing them? Seriously?

It would so easy for a rescue to say "go ahead and pass bad legislation but don't expect us to come in and rescue all the dogs taken from perfectly good homes to save your (backsides) and help your euthanasia numbers". But they don't. Instead, they become enablers, focused on saving each individual dog rather than looking at a long-term plan to enact change and save ALL of the dogs.

So don't preach to me about how bad commercial breeders are - I'm not buying it. I've never had a phone call from a pet owner that was distraught because a commercial breeder took their pet and killed it. Every single one of the weak-kneed, spineless shelter and rescue people reading this needs to decide if you're going to be part of the solution of if you're going to continue to be part of the problem, because if you support Prop B you are most assuredly part of the problem. Much like keeping your mouths shut because you're "afraid of losing your license", Prop B won't do anything to help enforcement.

Robert Garnett

MichelleD.Don't be ridiculous I am not talking about eradicating animals for the pets sake. I am not against making money from raising animals humanely. Perhaps my definition of humane differs from some but if I wouldn't volunteer my dog to live the way these large commercial breeders dogs live than I don't think I can call myself an animal lover and say it's ok for other female dogs to live the lives they do in these 50 plus commercial operations.You might consider them humane but I certainly don't.

kmk

Robert - how many commercial facilities have you toured in Missouri?

How many were licensed?

How many were unlicensed?

What specifically did you observe that caused you to object to the living conditions and consider them "inhumane" in the licensed facilities that were in compliance with the AWA, ACFA, and the AKC's Care and Conditions policies?

Is a kennel with 49 dogs more humane than one with 50 dogs?

The discussion is in regard to Prop B not doing anything to provide money or resources to shut down the facilities that are operating outside the law. It's not about the definition of "humane" and whether or not anyone's dog would be happy there.

I've been to some commercial facilities and the dogs certainly looked happier than the ones I saw in city shelters that were taken out of their homes because they were "pit bulls" or they happened to have a set of testicles in violation of city ordinances. The "living conditions" in the commercial kennels were cleaner and smelled considerably better.

I know who the enemy is, and it's not the commercial industry.

icareaboutanimals

Certainly I understand that the argument should be around standards of care, but won't limiting the number of dogs actually help prevent what is currently hundreds of thousands of dogs produced in one state shipped to the rest of the country? This is about a supply issue in my mind, and right now the surplus is undeniable.

Brent

ICAA,

All of the folks at campaign headquarters have been focused on the standards of care. I'm not sure it changes anything in the supply and demand issue. I've not spent a lot of time around puppy mills, but every time there is a bust, what gets pulled from the kennels are almost always small fluffy dogs -- poodles, spaniels, yorkies, lapso apsos, etc. When you see most shelters' kill numbers they're generally large-breed dogs and cats getting killed. I'm not sure I've seen much evidence that this would change the "surplus" issue. Surely if that was the end goal, using the $2 million to give 20,000 free spay neuters in low-income and rural areas would have been hugely helpful though...

Rosemary

I wonder whether the REAL issue that this discussion points to is whether we should look again at what we mean if we say "dogs should be neutered unless they're required for breeding".

Dogs are COMPANION animals, not livestock and as such they need human interaction to be "fit for function".

If everyone with a pet bitch allowed her to have just one litter that would obviously mean too many puppies, but it's not really an improvement to cut the link between dog breeding and the homes where they're ultimately going to live.

We always try to get puppies and kittens into foster homes as soon as possible precisely because a rescue kennel environment can't provide the conditions for ideal social development.

CristyF

I am also in the rescue world, and I would like to add my 2 cents. Firstly, I would like to say I have no problem with breeding, so long as the dogs are properly taken care of, and the breeder focuses on breeding healthy dogs. Just because a dog appears healthy on the outside, does not mean it is a healthy animal on the inside. Many breeds are prone to heart problems, eye problems (pugs and other breeds with bugged out eyes, for example, can be prone to glacoma), some toy breeds are prone to liver shunts and luxating patellas, some large breeds are prone to joint problems, and serious diseases like Wobblers. There is a lot that can go wrong in the genetics of a breeding. If the breeder knows about these things and tries his best to breed dogs that will live long healthy lives, more power to him.

And the conditions people object to that can be found in some "puppy mills"? Well, here is a lovely report for you complete with pictures, all about the subject. From the USDA itself!
http://www.usda.gov/oig/webdocs/33002-4-SF.pdf

I found this link on www.puppymillrescue.com. You can see many stories and pictures there of dogs who survived puppy mills. Some have happy endings, others do not. :(

kmk

puppymillrescue.com????? Gee, that sounds like an unbiased source.

I'm not sure why everyone assumes commercial breeders don't care about health testing and the quality of their dogs, but nothing could be further from the truth. Of course they care about the health of their dogs - they wouldn't stay in business very long if they didn't. The professional pet breeder organizations in Missouri routinely hold health seminars and they DO test their dogs. Many of the breeders have AKC judges evaluate their stock. Perhaps everyone should stop assuming all information from the Animal Rights Movement is gospel.

I once sat through a meeting where a commercial breeder told some "show breeders" how the cow eats the cabbage. The commercial industry has no earthly reason to keep substandard and unhealthy dogs in their breeding program but some show people will absolutely keep a dog with a problem in their breeding pool if it's winning big. And we've all heard the stories about a winning dog that couldn't produce, so the breeders used the dog's littermate as an expensive stud.

That doesn't happen much anymore with the advent of DNA testing but an aquaintance of mine nearly lost all the titles on her male GSD about 15 years ago due to a breeding scandal. She only had the misfortune of getting one of the puppies from the kennel.

A breeder can have 2 dogs and be dishonest or 200 and be dishonest. I don't believe there's a connection between the number of dogs one has and character! :-)

Purebred dogs do inherit some genetic diseases due to the size of the gene pool, just as Americans of African descent inherit the genes for sickle cell anemia, Jews inherit the genes for Tay-Sachs, and heart disease runs in families. Fortunately, as with people, parent clubs have invested thousands of dollars in research and health testing. There are now DNA screening tests for many, many genetic diseases and with dilligent testing we can eliminate many of the problems.

DNA testing is a good thing, since there was a time when genetic problems were dealt with by doing "test breedings" between closely related dogs. If anything bad turned up they dealt with the problem by using acute lead poisoning. I'm sure the Animal Rights folks wouldn't like that one bit. There was something to be said for that manner of breeding dogs, though.

And yes, mixed breeds suffer from the same maladies. I once heard a vet say she would go broke if mixed breeds had no health problems and were as "healthy" as everyone thinks they are!

I went to the USDA report - thank you for making my point. Clearly the USDA is interested in enforcing the law. They even had a color chart that shows the level of cruelty laws in each state. I noticed the first case was from Oklahoma, a state that, unlike Missouri, has no state law.

Sorry - The pictures of dogs in the USDA report with problems don't bother me. I was at a dog show one time and someone had pictures from Colorado, where law enforcement had raided some people deemed to be "dogfighters". They weren't, but that didn't stop the law from killing all the dogs. The pictures of the pile of dead pit bull puppies bothered me.

I guess the bar for what disturbs me is a bit higher than it is for most people since I have been dealing with people that are faced with having their pets taken and KILLED or have actually had their pets KILLED due to stupid laws for nearly 30 years, thanks in part to the efforts of the HSUS. There are laws in place to deal with substandard kennels, abuse and cruelty. There is NOTHING stopping law enforcement and Animal Control from taking people's pets and killing them. It happens every day.

There are plenty of laws in place in Missouri to deal with problem kennels. When government stops passing stupid laws that regulate honest pet owners and when they stop confiscating people's pets and killing them, I'll get excited about "puppy mills". until then, sorry, I'm busy.

CristyF

If you'd actually READ the report, you would see it is talking about how enforecement is INEFFECTIVE. Sure they want to enforce it, but its NOT BEING DONE. That's my point. Also, you asked what people object to about puppymills, well, those pictures all tell the story. Maybe if people saw pictures of happy dogs instead of pictures of matted dogs, the floor covered in feces, and dogs with horrific injuries, their view would be different. And I never said I was for the law that was discussed in the blog. I'm not. I want them to enforce the laws they have.

And the picture of the dog with the rotted leg that had most of the bone exposed didn't bother you? Wow. 0_o

Also, I have a hard time believing that commercial breeders actually health test their dogs. If you have 200 dogs, and you are doing tests on their knees to be sure you aren't going to breed a litter with luxating patellas, or doing OFA or CERF tests on their hips to try not to breed litters with hip displaysia, that's going to cost a LOT of money, and its going to be very difficult to actually make any money off of those litters.

Valerie

KMK, would these horrendous puppy mill conditions "bother" you if they were pumping out your precious Pit Bulls or other Bully Breeds? That does seem to be the ONLY dog breed you champion for. A shame, because you are clearly a passionate person (with a lot of free time to reply to blogs...)

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